Mayor of Hoboken Arrested

Peter Cammarano arrested

Oops! Just 23 days into his term, 31-year-old Peter Cammarano was arrested by the FBI as part of a long investigation into money-laundering and corruption in New Jersey and New York. Apparently, when he wasn’t posing with his wife and toddler daughter for campaign posters, Cammarano was meeting with a Hudson County official and a real estate developer, picking up envelopes stuffed with cash – five grand at a time, five times. The meetings took place at the Malibu Diner on 14th St, which is hands-down the worst diner I’ve ever been too, and I love diners. The place is a disgrace to the culinary traditions of New Jersey, and hopefully this bit of free press is not going to increase their business…

…but I digress. Continue reading Mayor of Hoboken Arrested

Of dogs and birds

Last week during the Christmas holiday I woke up and went to check on the garden. Our little fire-escape garden out the kitchen window had done well for us over the season, producing thyme, rosemary, and even a few cherry tomatoes as well as a bunch of nice plants and flowers. Of course, when the weather started getting cold we started moving everything inside that hadn’t died yet. I wanted to save all the excess dirt and dead leaves and roots, because I had a crazy vision that it would be even more fertile next year. I even bought a bucket from the hardware store and put all this dirt and organic material in it and left it out on the fire escape to serve as a sort of compost heap.

My first indication that this wouldn’t really work was last week when I checked it and found it had first filled with rainwater and then frozen. Continue reading Of dogs and birds

Pros vs. Joes

The annual golfing tradition known as Pros vs. Joes took place recently, and it was not pretty for the Joes.

The pros – Pete and Remy – were looking to avenge their losses in the first two installments of the Fall Finish last year, when Johnny cakes and I destroyed them twice – first at Hackensack, then at Ridgewood.

One of the benefits of being a looper is that you can play top notch courses for free, by virtue of your friendships to the people who run these places. When the fancy clubs are closed to members, there are opportunities for the workingmen to enjoy themselves on the fairways and greens.

This time, sadly, it was more often the rough and the sand for me and my partner. It started off with a bad sign: I lost an entire brand new sleeve of Titleists on the first hole. Two in the water off the tee, and a third, dropped behind the pond, also failed to clear the drink. All day, the Joes won 2 holes, I think. The final verdict was a $36 dollar defeat.

We had a beautiful day for it, though. Late October, leaves changing color, a crisp breeze but sunny skies that meant the sweaters could stay off most of the day. Afterwards, three of us went down to the Hudson Tavern for a kingly feast. The pros were gracious enough to pick up the tab.

State vs Almerindo G Portfolio

Yesterday was my day in court.

I appeared before Judge Scott Bennion of the Clifton Municipal Court, and I should say, I think he’s a fine judge. He would get my vote, had I one in Clifton, Passaic Count. His manner of churning through case after case to get the job done appealed to me – after all, the majority of his cases that morning were traffic violations. There are apparently a number of things he must say, a procedure he must go through, legally (one assumes), before allowing one to plea-bargain, say, an “80 in a 55” to a “69 in a 55.”

Which is what I did, saving myself about $30 and two points on my license. Not much, but it was worth it to see how democracy, justice and Western Society At Large were playing out on this particular day in this particular community. Continue reading State vs Almerindo G Portfolio

Lawyered Up

Last week I was driving a bit fast on the Parkway and got zapped by a State Trooper – 80 in a 55 = a $220 fine and four points, apparently. Which is not too cool. After getting some free advice from one of the guys at Hackensack, I’m going to show up in court and try to pay down the points.

So I got over to mom’s to pick up some mail and say hi – and I find I have no fewer than nine letters from lawyers offering their assistance in the case. It seems that the “Open Public Records Act (NJSA 47:1A-1) shows that [I] have been charged for violating NJSA 39:4-98.29 (Exceeding By 25-29mph) in the Clifton County Municipal Court.” These guys obviously troll the public records looking for new clients, which, in my humble opinion, doesn’t exactly recommend them as outstanding lawyers.

All these attorneys offer free consultations, but also make it clear that they accept ALL MAJOR CREDIT CARDS. Thanks, but I don’t think so.

Lord Byron, RIP

Byron Nelson
Byron Nelson

The great Byron Nelson is dead. At the ripe old age of 94, one of golf’s greatest legends has passed on. The New York Times did a great obituary on this giant of the game, in which they said

Nelson won the Masters twice, the P.G.A. Championship twice and the United States Open once. His triumphs in those five majors were among his 52 tournament victories, placing him No. 6 on the PGA Tour career list. His 18 tournament victories in 1945 remain a single-season record. During a seven-year stretch in the 1940’s he made 113 consecutive tournament cuts, a total exceeded only by Tiger Woods, who passed him in 2003. He was named male athlete of the year for 1944 and 1945 in an Associated Press poll of sportswriters and broadcasters.

They should have added there (they did later) that part of those 18 victories in 1945 made up a stretch of 11 consecutive wins. Both records still stand, and will probably stand for all time. No golfer has come close to either. The great Sam Snead “only” managed 11 in one season, and Tiger, in all his glory, has only gone as far as six straight – impressive feats, nonetheless. And I believe Tiger has gone 6 in a row twice. But nobody has touched 11 and 18, and I doubt they will.

Another noteworthy part of the article says that Byron Nelson was once an assistant pro in my hometown of Ridgewood, NJ, at the storied Ridgewood Country Club. Actually, the RCC is in Paramus, but hey, what can you do.

Here is my favorite part of the article, which I think sums up the way that I want to look at my own life, whether in golf, music, business, study, or anything:

“”What I did in 1945 was mostly a mental achievement”,” he recalled. “”In those days, I could drive the ball so well that I would really get bored. I just decided I was not going to hit one careless shot. Plus, I had the focus of the ranch.”” Nelson needed $55,000 to purchase ranchland, something he had long coveted. In his memoir “How I Played the Game,” his recalled: ““Each drive, each iron, each chip, each putt was aimed at the goal of getting that ranch. And each win meant another cow, another acre, another 10 acres, another part of the down payment.””

Nelson’’s winnings in 1945 —- about $63,000 in war bonds -— enabled him to buy a 740-acre spread in Roanoke, near Dallas, that he named Fairway Ranch. It became his home for the rest of his life.

I’ll raise my glass to that.

UPDATE 9-28: NYT has a new piece on Nelson here (requires subscription) which includes this anecdote about Ridgewood:

Nelson hit the ball so straight, the caddies there once challenged him to try to hit the flagpole about 100 yards away across the practice green from the slate deck outside the pro shop. Together, the caddies put up about 55 cents. They put down three balls on the deck and gave Nelson three shots to hit the flagpole, which was about six inches wide.

“I used my 3-iron,” Nelson often recalled with a smile. “My first ball just missed the flagpole, then my second clanged off it. I picked up the 55 cents.”

Damn. And here’s what kind of a guy Lord Byron was, in the words of Ken Venturi:

“I once asked Byron why, wherever we went, he would always go into the pro shop and ask, ‘’What is the course record and who holds it?’’”” Venturi recalled. “”He told me: ‘‘If the home pro owns the course record, you don’’t break it. The home pro lives there. We’’re just visitors.’’ Now that’’s class.”