Sunday, July 5, 2015

POSTED: Friday, June 26, 2015, 12:35 PM
Filed Under: Kevin Riordan
Lily Tomlin image courtesy of Towleroad.com

Tweets, texts and Facebook posts came first. Such elation!

But the phone calls hit me the most.

My friend Kathy was on the line from Rochester, NY, where we got our glitter on and saw David Bowie together 42 years ago this summer. What a night that was.


POSTED: Monday, June 22, 2015, 6:01 PM
Filed Under: Kevin Riordan
Red Mascara campaigned for 54 years to have his song made the official state song. He died Saturday at 92. (AKIRA SUWA / Staff)

Joseph Rocco 'Red' Mascari, who as "Red Mascara" spent half a century plugging a simple song he wrote about New Jersey,  is dead.

Mascari, 92, died Saturday in his hometown of Phillipsburg, Warren County. It was there,  as a factory worker in 1960, that he wrote "I'm From New Jersey (And I'm Proud About It)," a old-school tune he would lobby -- without success -- to have declared the state's official song.

I wrote a column about Mascari last September, after a young filmmaker from Teaneck named Daniel Goodman began shooting a documentary about the man and his mission, and I admired both the quirky songwriter and the idealistic filmmaker.


POSTED: Tuesday, June 16, 2015, 4:37 PM
Filed Under: Kevin Riordan
Rainbow store and others on the south side of Broadway's 200 block in Camden would be demolished to make way for a Joint Health Sciences Center. (Kevin Riordan/Staff)

Half of downtown Camden’s last remaining retail block will be razed, and a three-month-old restaurant owned by a homegrown entrepreneur also will be demolished, if the latest redevelopment scheme for the city becomes a reality.

As my Inquirer colleague Jonathan Lai reported Monday, the land bounded by Broadway, Martin Luther King Blvd., Stevens St. and Fifth St. is envisioned as the site of a $50 million Joint Health Sciences Center -- a classroom, laboratory and office complex that would help connect the downtown campuses of Rutgers-Camden and the Cooper Medical School of Rowan University .

The current retail occupants of the south side of the 200 block of Broadway, including Rainbow, Villa, and the Broadway Food Court, would disappear. So would properties on the 500 block of King Blvd., where Ray Davis opened his Newtown Kitchen and Lounge three months ago.

POSTED: Thursday, May 28, 2015, 9:18 AM
Artist's rendering of proposed tattoo business in downtown Collingswood, NJ. (Photo by Kevin Riordan )

Is Collingswood, NJ ready for a new Golden Age?

That's the name of a "tattoo and gallery" business Jeff Miller hopes to open in a prominent  downtown storefront.

Forget body art's still rather raffish, renegade aura; Miller, 31, says Golden Age will focus on culture and community. He envisions it as "a departure" from conventional tattoo establishments - such as those the borough historically has prohibited.

POSTED: Tuesday, May 26, 2015, 7:04 PM
Lewis Katz spoke at Temple University's commencement in 2014. (DAVID SWANSON / Staff Photographer)

Friends, family and admirers of businessman and philanthropist Lewis Katz are rallying behind his New Jersey Hall of Fame nomination.

Katz, who was 72 when he died in a plane crash on May 31, 2014, is among 10 men and women named in the Hall's "enterprise" category.

Other nominees with South Jersey ties include former NAACP presiident and Camden native Bruce S. Gordon; Moorestown industrialist Samuel Leeds Allen, who patented the Flexible Flyer sled;  trailblazing Atlantic City businesswoman Sara Spencer Washington; and John A. Roebling, whose Florence Township steelworks forged the cables for the Brooklyn Bridge.

POSTED: Thursday, May 21, 2015, 5:18 PM
Camden in the early 1950s, before urban "renewal" obliterated most of downtown. (Photo: DVRBS.com)

Despite having mostly failed for more than half a century, top-down redevelopment schemes are all the rage again in Camden.

Politicians elected and un-elected are shovelling massive amounts of public funds, government subsidies and tax 'incentives' to woo big corporations to Camden, where the hollowed-out blocks and tax-exempt tundras of downtown and the waterfront showcase the downside of the boardroom-driven urban "renewal" that has prevailed for decades.

To teach residents how to benefit from or create economic development opportunities closer to where they live, two respected grassroots organizations are partnering with Rutgers-Camden to offer an "Economy of Inclusion" policy forum  at 6 p.m. Thursday, May 28 at St Anthony of Padua Church, 2818 River Rd..

POSTED: Friday, May 15, 2015, 4:43 PM
The boathouse at Cooper River Park. Photo by Newsworks.org

A grassroots campaign to have the heart of Cooper River Park declared a historic district may get a boost from a separate and rather ominous designation.

The private, nonprofit advocacy group Preservation New Jersey announced Thursday that the same portion of the Camden County park -- sometimes called the Cooper Lake -- has been placed on the latest list of the state's "10 most endangered places."

"We're grateful for Preservation NJ's recognition of the threat to the park," said Kevin Cook, who with fellow Cherry Hill resident Robert Shinn wrote Along the Cooper River, a new book about the park's history. "I'm pleased that our effort to create the Cooper River Park Historic District may reach a larger audience."

Shinn said the designation "should be a wake-up call" for Camden County, which has resisted the district proposal at every turn. County officials did not respond to my requests for comment Friday, but have previously said the designation is unnecessary and could complicate ongoing park improvement projects.

POSTED: Thursday, May 14, 2015, 11:08 AM
Waterfront South neighborhood. Image: Philly.com

Camden residents will take to the streets Friday to help document connections and disconnections for walkers and cyclists in the Waterfront South neighborhood.

Volunteers will fan out from the CCMUA building on Ferry Avenue around 1 p.m. and begin noting sidewalk conditions; crosswalk, bike lane and walking trail availability, and pedestrian and cycling linkages (or the lack thereof) with neighborhood green spaces like the new Phoenix Park. The nonprofit advocacy group  Tri-State Transportation Campaign is conducting the asessment, which will continue into the weekend.

"We'll be mapping areas where improvements can be made, so that local residents and organizations can push for changes," Matthew Norris, the campaign's South Jersey coordinator, tells me. The effort is being paid for under a $10,000 grant from the Shaping New Jersey program of the state health department.

About this blog
Blinq is a news commentary blog featuring contributions from Inquirer Metro columnists Kevin Riordan and Daniel Rubin.

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