Friday, March 29, 2013

Letter of Complaint to Westfield

Dear Chief Wayman:
Ever since I was a child, I have enjoyed visiting Downtown Westfield and frequenting the Westfield Rialto with my family and friends. The management of the theater has done a great job of upgrading the facility, and the people who work there have been extremely accommodating, however, after an experience that occurred earlier today, I do not plan on returning there in the future.
I decided to take my niece and nephew to see a movie that was scheduled to start at 12 p.m. We drove through the parking lot behind the theater (Lot 5) and there were no vacant spots. I drove along Elmer and Lenox but was unable to locate anything there as well. After scanning Lot 7 with nothing apparently open, the only spot I was able to find was on the street near the corner of Lenox and Elmer Streets. It was a two-hour spot, and I fed the meter with enough quarters and dimes to reach the maximum allowable total. Realizing it was a 98 minute movie and with no other options within proximity of the theater, I figured it would give us just enough time to see the movie and leave without a problem. I parked the car at 11:40 a.m. and went into the theater to see the movie, which cost $34 to see with additional money spent in the concession stand.
While I did consider walking out midway through the movie to find a new spot, there was no way I could leave two children in the theater alone. After previews and other advertisements, the movie ended approximately at 1:45 p.m., and the children wanted to stop for a bathroom break. We headed directly for the car, and I noticed a parking ticket for $32 on my windshield. The ticket was given at 1:42 p.m. (about 5 minutes before I was back at the car) and a movie with two children turned into an $80 day. Obviously, I was very unhappy with the situation.
Since it was a two-hour spot, I understand I am guilty of the violation and paid the ticket, but the question I have is what good is a two-hour spot near a movie theater if most movies are two hours or longer? The parking rule near a theater does not make sense. What other options did I have? I am assuming I am not the only one who has encountered this problem and feel terribly for all of the people who are being fined for a situation they really could not control.
Rather than run the risk of no vacant four-hour spots near the theater, I plan on finding other alternatives for movies where parking is free and not in short supply like in Linden, Edison and Mountainside. It is a shame that I am forced to end my relationship with a town where I have such great memories.
Todd Cohen

Saturday, May 01, 2010

What is "Old"?

So it's been a little while since I posted. Come to think of it maybe it's not SO long ago. September of 2009, right? It's not like we have a new president, and the weather is pretty much the same as when I last posted. The Knicks are still terrible and unemployment is still at an alarming rate.

Maybe we're not that much different in eight months. One thing's for sure...we've all aged. Well, unless you're Joan Rivers. Even Ponce de Leon is jealous.

Which begs me to ask the age-old question....what is "old" anyway?
Me: Wow....that song you're listening to...Forever Young. That was my high school prom song.
Student: Really? With Jay-Z?
Me: Uhh....not exactly.

Oh boy.
For some old is entirely a matter of perspective. An 11 year old might not consider himself old but what about a 5 year old referring to that same 11 year old? Is Jack LaLanne old? The guy probably has a healthier interior than many 30 year olds I know, especially ones on the McDonald's diet. Jack's 95 years old. That means he's just 5 years away from getting the Willard Scott treatment.

Hilda Lacroix is 110 years old? ONE HUNDRED TEN? If I were that age, I'm thinking the only words out out of my mouth at that point are "Please kill me. Now." Maybe Hilda isn't really that old? It's possible that she goes out to fist pump at the local senior clubs and enjoys listening to Ke$ha and Lady Gaga on her iPod in between shots of Metamucil and seriously large doses of Vicodin. Right?

When are we old?

Are we old when we start to feel pain on a regular basis?

Are we old during our first appearance of gray hair (or in some cases, no hair at all)?
Are we old when the candles on our birthday cakes can illuminate the entire Prudential Center?
Are we old when our age no long appears on a standard combination lock? Thankfully, I'm not there....yet.

Are we old when dirt starts to look young?

Next week the new national grandmother, Betty White, become one of the oldest people to host Saturday Night Live when she leads a special Mother's Day edition of the program. She's 88 years old and only one other person could truly make the argument that Ms. White is "young" in years. SNL Announcer Don Pardo is 92.

To give you an idea how old Pardo is when he was born World War I was still in the process of being fought and the Red Sox were still months away from capturing their last title in 86 years.

I met Mr. Pardo 2 years ago during a taping of SNL. I told him he was a living legend and remembered from his job introducing the NBC New York news when I was a kid. I don't know if he heard a word I said, but he did tell me, "You are going to see a GRRRRREAT show!" Was Don Pardo kidnapped and replaced by the tiger from the Frosted Flakes commercial?

Where was I? Oh yeah, "old." Just like the saying, "Beauty is in the eye of the beer holder (or beholder whatever your tolerance for alcoholic beverages may be)" there really is no set definition for old. You can LOOK old but if you're a kid at heart, then you're not REALLY old. Unless you're a 21 year old kid at heart and you're looking from the vantage point of a teenager.

Plenty of educators and township personnel are considering retirements due to the pressures set forth by the new governor of New Jersey. Some may put them in the "OLD" group after their 25+ years of service. But I'm sure we'll see who gets the last laugh when they're basking in the sun on the golf course or relaxing on a cruise to Europe.

Maybe getting old isn't so bad after all.

See you in another 8 months. We'll all be a little bit older.
Or will we?

Saturday, September 05, 2009

Just Win, Baby

Rutgers plays Cincinnati on Monday in the biggest season-opening game in recent memory. If the Scarlet Knights lose, it's going to be ugly.

How could anyone put this much into one regular season game? Simple.

1) Up for Grabs: In a Big East Conference with no clear cut favorite (prognosticators have picked any of 4-5 teams to win the league this year....and I think one of them may have selected Don Bosco Prep in error), Rutgers needs to set the tone early and avoid a first half like it experienced last season. Which brings me to point #2....

2) Ugly start, Ugly end: There's nothing like a dismal 1-5 start to have the fans turn against you. Last season, Mike Teel and Kenny Britt proved to be two of the keys to the turnaround. Now with both of them collecting paychecks to play on Sunday (as opposed to many other college players collecting paychecks to play on Saturday....oooooh, did I write that? Whoops!), there aren't many proven go-to players to turn the tide in 2009. Their top offensive player is an offensive lineman. That isn't going to help score TDs, unless Greg Schiano petitions the NCAA to legalize the fumblerooski. Plus, fans want a BCS bowl or something close to it this season. Yes, Rutgers is only 7 years removed from football purgatory, but no more obscure pizza bowls in obscure locations. A 7-win season isn't going to get anyone that excited...especially when two of the wins are against mediocre I-AA teams.

3) If you build it, it should come: Tons of dollars have been put into this program and fans want a winner. More seats were added and the coach is getting enough money to feed those in Third World Countries and create a new problem...obesity. With the addition of new seats and the AD completely in Schiano's pocket, it's time for Rutgers to do better than 3rd in the conference. A sold out crowd will be watching along with other Rutgers fans and's a must win baby.

Prediction: Rutgers is dealing with some issues at the skill positions....there's no clear cut go-to WRs or RBs and the QB is inexperienced. When all things are even and in this case, it's close...Rutgers is more sound defensively than the Bearcats, which is looking to fill 10 vacancies (that's more openings than the coaching will make a difference. Cincy 24-20. Yes, it pains me to write that...and that's because I think I may have tweaked my ankle on a run this evening.

My predictions...

Rutgers finishes 8-4. I was tempted to give Rutgers a loss to Syracuse. The Orange looked decent today and could be a tough play on the road late in the season. Still, my hatred for Eric Devendorf was too great and I had to stick a "W" up there. With almost no non-conference powerhouses and a down year for the Big East, this is quite a cupcake schedule.

Other thoughts:

  • Since when did country music become the soundtrack for college football? I know plenty of teams in the SEC have been dominant but everywhere you look there's another dude with a banjo and tall hat belting out tunes on ESPN and ABC. I'm sure sales of Skoal skyrocket every Saturday.

  • I went to Washington D.C. for a White House tour this week. You know the saying, "A few rotten apples spoil the whole bunch"? Well, that's definitely true for Obama's residence. The tour was ok but thanks to those who try to attack this country for everything great that we have to offer, there were more restrictions than the security line at Newark Liberty Airport. No weapons (makes sense), no pens (huh?), no cameras (are you kidding me?). Since 9/11 it's almost like we're prisoners in our own country. It was great to see history and I am grateful for it, but with most of the rooms roped off like the multiplex on the other side of town, I just wish I could have had a closer look at history. Maybe I should just run for president and get better access (and take about 30 years off my life).

  • On the subject of president, when did a speech about education create such an uproar? President Obama is planning on speaking to the students of this country and reinforce the message of the importance of an education and staying in school. His opponents and plenty of outraged parents are speaking out against the speech, threatening to keep students home if the speech is broadcast in their schools. Are you serious? The flu bug, a bomb threat, a religious holiday, heck even the release of a Spike Lee movie might be better reasons to prevent a child from going to school. I think the idea of an Obama speech would be a welcome presentation for many of those students who hold Obama in high regard and don't consider school a priority in their lives. If he reaches even one kid, then the speech has done it's job. Regardless of how you feel about Obama's policies, his message could really resonate with the youth who have felt as though they have a connection with him.

  • Random unless scheduling item: George Washington University's men's basketball team hosts Oregon State 2 days after Thanksgiving. Oregon State is coached by Obama's brother in law, Craig Robinson. You think the OSU team will be invited for the holiday meal or will it be only the family at the White House? Roeland Schaftenaar wants to know.

Happy Labor Day, which is a nice way of saying, "Summer's over, days get shorter, time to get depressed!"

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Bold Eagles

"The average dog is a nicer person than the average person." ~Andy Rooney

Falcons, Eagles....not so bad. Dogs? Well, that's another story.

I guess you can't really say Michael Vick isn't an animal lover. He seemed to enjoy his time with both of his bird teams. Canines appeared to bring out another side for the man from Virginia.

Unless you've been under a rock for the past 2 years, Vick admitted to participating in an illegal dogfighting ring, leading to a 23 moth sentence (of which only 18 months were served due to good behavior). Evidentally, he was a man's best friend in prison...if you know what I mean. This week, the Philadelphia Eagles signed Vick to a contract, prompting uproars from all sorts of animal friendly groups. Why am I surprised he wasn't signed by the Browns and their Dawg Pound?

This country LOVES a good debate and Vick's current situation gives everyone a chance to throw their opinion out there...should the Eagles (or any NFL team for that matter) have signed Vick to a contract?

Let me preface this by saying I am a NY Giants fan and the thought of Vick on the field doesn't exactly make me happy. The GMen has a new defensive coordinator and the Brian Westbrook-Donovan McNabb-Vick trio could bring one of the speediest backfields in the league. Plus, you figure McNabb is going to be hurt at some point in the season (after all, he is 231 in dog years) and I'd much rather see Kevin Kolb or A.J. Feeley throwing long interceptions than Mr. Vick scamper around like a wild puppy.

Yes, I'm terrible.

But not as bad as Vick, who didn't exactly grow up in a model environment. Vick's parents held several jobs, raising the family in an impoverished neighborhood in Virginia. His brother, also a player at Virginia Tech, was constantly in trouble with the law from charges of brandishing a firearm to molestation of a minor to a DUI charge. While Michael shouldn't be branded with the behavior of his brother, it does help illustrate the enivornment in which he was raised.

When you think of what Vick did to these animals....and keep in mind, these were not PEOPLE. They were dogs, and while dogs are held in high regard by many in this country, they should take a backseat to human life. Yes, I realize some people like to throw a cute outfit on their dogs and dress them up like they're going out for a night on the town, and then all is brought right back to reality when they sit Fido down to enjoy a nice can of slop, followed by a sniff of his own genitals.

"Don't stain the dog tuxedo shirt!"

If there was a list of animals with a rating of how precious they are dogs would be somewhere near the top. It might look like this: ants, spiders, centipedes, bin Laden, frogs, deer, Red Sox fans, bunnies, cats/dogs, and people (had to go with the slash between cats and dogs because my mom will likely read this and there's nothing like trying to deal with an angry Jewish mother).

What he did was reprehensible. To think of electrocuting any living thing, especially a dog, makes you wonder about someone's character. He had no regard for something crying out in pain and went on with the torture. That tells me a lot about him as a person. Maybe he was conditioned to be oblivious to the dog's feelings. Is he the same way around some groups of people?

Which gets me to my point...even though Vick did a gruesome series of acts, he served his time in jail as a punishment and was readmitted to the league. He should be allowed to get his life back together. Like I stated before, he didn't murder people. He killed dogs and there should be a line between the two groups. Remember the word is "DOG" and not the reverse. I don't have a problem with the Eagles signing him, but it's a question of what he's going to do from this point on. Is he going to be a model citizen? Will he make attempts to show remorse for his acts of animal cruelty?

I'm not thrilled the Eagles signed him for competitive reasons, but he should be given a second chance to get his life on the right track. They say that all dogs go to heaven.

Will Michael Vick?

Friday, June 26, 2009

The King Has Popped

Yes, Michael...."this is it."

What a crazy week it's been for celebrity newscasts. Michael Jackson and Farrah Fawcett left the building (even though I thought Jackson died after that awful "Invincible" album). I wonder if the Governor of South Carolina, Mark Sanford, will be sending thank you letters to each of their estates for stealing the spotlight from him. Don't get me wrong, the guy is a moron. There are 50 governors in this country and I'm wondering if they ever talk to each other.

I think if a Governor is sworn in, he should be handed a guidebook with a list of rules. It would be like Fight Club. Rule 1: DON'T HAVE AN AFFAIR. Rule 2: DON'T SLEEP WITH OTHERS WHO ARE NOT YOUR WIFE. Rule 3: See rules 1 and 2. Rule 4: DON'T GO OVER 85 MPH IN A CAR WITHOUT A SEATBELT.

Maybe that's just in New Jersey.

So, the search began for this mistress.....Maria Belen Chapur. No photos on the web as of yet, but this video was posted. I kind of wished I paid more attention to Senora Albano in high school spanish and learned how to say more than just "Donde esta el bano?". Just like Gary Condit was removed from the public eye after 9/11, I'm guessing that will be the case in the short term for Gov. Sanford.

I remember Michael Jackson when I was growing up as the most popular person in the world. People would cry in the streets outside his hotels (I thought they were all slicing onions). His fashion sense was a little off the wall (parachute pants? 10 zippers on a jacket?), but still people copied him. The one-glove look became a Halloween fixture (just ask my brother...even though he probably won't admit it). Heterosexuals wore leather proudly. Obviously, he had quite the effect.

Even though the SARS-or swine flu-like Asian face covering never really caught on probably like he would have liked.

A million people bought tickets to his tour next month in London (well, maybe 50 shows in London wouldn't be considered much of a "tour"...more like a "stay"). Either way, I remember when Frank Sinatra died and saw the endless television programs about his life and the effect he had on a generation. Now, I understand what they went through because Michael had a similar dominance over my generation. MTV was still a fledgling station and he turned it into his personal medium. With the internet still over a decade away, audiences tuned in for their chance to see the "Thriller" music video and get a glimpse of the new music revolution. And who could forget the endless jokes about burnt hair during a Pepsi commercial or his endless court cases?

Q: What did the woman say to Michael Jackson on the beach?

A: Excuse me, but could you please get out of my son?

While there were many strange rememberances of the King of Pop, I must admit seeing Akon get interviewed from New Mexico was a little weird. Of all the places to find the artist who sang "Locked Up", "Mama Africa" "Gangsta" and "I Want to Love You (but the word "Love" was replaced with another 4-letter word), Albuquerque wouldn't be among my top 1000 guesses.

In other news....I went with the Sandman to see the new musical "Rock of Ages". Going into the show, I wasn't expecting much but it really surpassed my expectations. Despite the onslaught of mullets, the music was amazing and there was plenty of shtick throughout the show. There was even a line that referenced my birthdate, April 14th. I would see it again in a second. If you're a fan of those 80s bands, get a ticket.

This year's Pancreatic Cancer Picnic is scheduled for Oct. 11th at the Deutscher Club in Clark, NJ. More info to come!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Today was another sad day for the newspaper industry. A double whammy, in fact.

The Star Ledger announced plans for a 10 day furlough, which is basically a period of unpaid leave, and stop contributions to the paper's employee pension plan. While reading that story, I saw the Ann Arbor News (a publication for which two of my friends have toiled or currently toil) plans on ending its daily print edition - opting to go with an online format.

I spent about 6 years of my life considering a full-time job in the newspaper industry. Fortunately, my sense of humor that newspaper brass tended to take the wrong way and inability to become a seasoned and prolific writer (partly because lack of desire but also due to constant mental frustration....trying to become the next Mike Lupica when I should have tried to been the first "Joker"). While I still freelance here and there, this news really hit home.

Newspapers have always been a HUGE part of my life. When I was in middle school, I watched my brother deliver the Daily Journal and filled in for him from time to time (which eventually became everyday). My hands smelled like rubberband and newspaper ink....not exactly a combination that lured the ladies. I remember mentally cursing out the people on my route who didn't tip (or rounded up on the dollar and gave me 40 cents for 2 weeks worth of work). They left me poor and scarred for life. One of my first words in Spanish was "periodico."

Not sure what that's supposed to mean.

Now the internet has brought instant news in our lifes and attributed to the slow death of newspapers. I can't imagine the world without opening a paper to read All Area capsules...or local letters to the editor....or check the lottery numbers to see if my mother was a millionaire (I'm still waiting for her to be a hundredaire).......or stare at Bracket Boy's mug. Wow....never thought I'd write that.

What will the future bring? Are we going to have people with video cameras installed in their heads, recording every move to place on the internet for a video story? Will there continue to be a need for journalists? The only good thing to come out of this may be a name change for the New Jersey Sportswriters Association to the NJ Sportsmedia Association. Hell might have to freeze over for that to happen...

Leave it to my mom to put this all in another perspective.

"If the Star Ledger folds, what am I going to use to line the kitty litter with?"

March Madness is one of the best times of year for a sportsfan. The search for cinderella. I'd say I have seen about 50 or so college basketball games this year but that doesn't mean I'm an expert at picking games. Then again, who is?

Case in point: I'm in a pool at work...a pool that I have finished in the top 3 twice over the past 4 years. I spent about 10 minutes filling out a bracket with theories that have paid off for me in the past (never go with the Big Ten or Big East Tourney Champions.....try to stay away from teams who have lost a key player within the past month....pick at least one 12 seed to make the round of 32....never go with a New Jersey school....not a difficult choice this year).

When I got to work today, I wasn't in the lead. I can partially thank the wisdom I took from the good doctor. "West Virginia is going to be one tough out in the tournament." Not so good, AL. No, the leader was a woman who watches very little college basketball....and, adding more salt to my wound, is a big Seton Hall fan.

Me: Wow....congrats on your great performance in the pool.

Woman: Thanks!

Me: What teams did you get wrong?

Woman: Missouri and Purdue.

Me: picked Arizona?

Woman: Yeah.

Me: How did you get Arizona right?

Woman: Well, I looked at the teams and picked the ones that were in places I'd like to go on vacation.

I'm not even kidding.

Other absurdities to ponder:

  • How does Steve F. Austin have an NCAA Tourney caliber basketball team but no wrestling program?

  • I was sorry to hear about the loss of Natasha Richardson, and saw numerous stories about her tragic injury....but not a peep about the death of Bill Buchanan. What a travesty.

  • Memo to new Big East Commish John Marinatto: maybe it's time to treat the Big East like Italian soccer and cut the bottom 3 teams. Maybe send Rutgers, South Florida and DePaul to the A-10 and promote Xavier and Temple? Better yet, put them in Division 3. I'd love to see a Rutgers/TCNJ matchup.

There are many reasons why I refrain from telling people I graduated from Rutgers. The basketball team, the Terry Shea football regime, RU Screw...

Now I can add this to the list.

My new addiction: Mafia Wars on Facebook. Will you please join my mafia and help me loot and rob other cyber criminals for mindless fun? I didn't think so.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

The City That Never Sleeps

It was a mixed weekend for me. I made the trek to the largest city in the country to visit E. That is always a good time. Well, unless you're thumb wrestling on a small dinner table, leading to the spillage of a glass of water on the patron sitting to your right. Sorry, sir. At least it wasn't the swiss marshmallow hot chocolate.

I don't like to drive to the Big Apple. Sure, it's easier than ever before...with a GPS practically spoon-feeding you directions to your destination, even Ray Charles could make the trip. And that's not just because he's blind.....or dead for that matter. I just like to avoid drivers who are ready to take me off the road. As my brother says, "Cab drivers are proof that practice does not make perfect."

Taking the train from Metropark, I sat behind a guy in his early 20s who was talking to his friend. I find it interesting that even in public, people have to drop the F-bomb constantly to get their point across. Couldn't believe the filth, flarn, filth being uttered by this kid.

So, his phone rings and he answers the call.

Guy: "Hello......what? No way! No F&*(in way!!! I got the job!!! I can't believe this!!! That's awesome! OK, I'll call them later in the week."

Was he shocked to be the only one in this economy actually to be getting a job? No, he was accepting his first job. And oh, a fun one at that. He just learned that he was going to be a summer cop in Seaside Heights. I think I'd rather be an officer in Camden with a uniform covered by $100 bills, but that's just me.

Since he was speaking at a level that rivaled a Metallica concert, I overheard him chatting with his friend alongside him. Among the requirements for his job interview?

"I had to do 5 pull ups and run a mile. I'm not even sure I had to complete the mile."

I guess you don't have to be nimble to run down a Mustang with black lights along the Boulevard.

When I arrived at the train station, I spotted a large group of people staring endlessly upwards. Was someone getting mugged on the ceiling? No, they were just waiting for their track destination. And when that does pop up on the board like one of those goofy heads you try and slap down at Chuck E Cheese, people LOVE to charge toward the track like the train conductor is giving out rolls of $20 bills. There's no regard for life. Settle down people. Let's not run down the old lady with the Duane Reade bag, so we can get monopolize that double-seat for the 15 min ride to Newark.

While we're on the subject of NYC, I'm wondering why every pizza place needs to have a photograph from one or more of the following movies: Godfather, Goodfellas, Heat, Raging Bull? Does this mean the tomato sauce is Bobby DeNiro approved? I enjoy these photos even more when the people who own the restaurant are from Middle Eastern decent. Do they even know who Al Pacino is? And if Joe Pesci walks in, does he get a discount? I mean, the guy hasn't worked in like 10 years. He needs to eat, too.

I took an early train back to NJ for the Rutgers/Seton Hall basketball game with the Local Shill. I figured there was NO way the Pirates would sweep the series this year. Both teams are awful and Rutgers was at home. Oh boy, I was wrong.

I probably should have stayed in the city and not showed up for the game. JR Inman and the rest of the team surely did.

In order to prevent myself from putting my fist through my laptop, I won't get into details of the 65-60 loss. I'm just curious if a team that's 1-17 in the Big East can keep it's coach.

Stench movie of the week: The Rocker. No, this movie isn't about some old lady in a chair or a pitcher who likes to use profanity on the subway OR Michael J. Fox's autobiographical story (even I'M ashamed I went there).

Rainn Wilson (The Office) could have done one of the greatest acting jobs in the history of cinema and this movie STILL would have sucked. Drummer leaves band, drummer works in corporate world, drummer joins 3 teens to start band. One sign that I'm getting old: Christina Applegate is playing a mom in this flick. I always had her pegged as the older Bundy kid in "Married With Children" but I guess you can't pull a "Simpsons" and stay youthful and in that role forever.
Happy Valentine's Day and Presidents Day to all. Don't forget to kiss an Obama.