Monday, April 27, 2015

POSTED: Thursday, February 12, 2015, 6:04 PM
Web design work at Hopeworks N' Camden. Photo provided

The youth development organization Hopeworks N' Camden doesn't want help from the Democratic National Convention next year in Philadelphia.

Instead, the respected nonprofit -- which assists 300 city kids annually through high-tech job training and other programs -- wants to help conventioneers understand how best to help their own cities.

"We don't need them to tour Camden. They've already seen buildings falling down -- it's called 'poverty porn,'" says Dan Rhoton, Hopeworks' chief impact director. "We need them to talk to our young people, who were part of the problem and now are part of the solution.

POSTED: Thursday, February 12, 2015, 10:48 AM
NJ Assemblyman John J. Burzichelli. Photo provided

NJ Assemblyman John Burzichelli (D-Gloucester) just got a fabulous second public job as 'Director of Project Management ' for the Gloucester County Improvement Authority.

My Philadelphia Inquirer colleague Angelo Fichera reports that the Assembly's deputy speaker (who's also a businessman and a former Paulsboro mayor) was hired after a one-hour meeting with county administrator Chad Bruner and the improvement authority's acting executive director, George Strachan.

Curious, I used my telepathic mind channel -- on which I recently tuned in to Gov. Christie's secret conversations -- to retroactively livestream audio and video of the hiring festivities at the improvement authority's headquarters/mansion.

POSTED: Tuesday, February 10, 2015, 12:46 PM
Bruce Springsteen performs onstage during USC Shoah Foundation's 20th Anniversary Gala at the Hyatt Regency Century Plaza on May 7, 2014, in Century City, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images for USC Shoah Foundation)

So little known was Bruce Springsteen when he played Cherry Hill on August 14, 1973 that an advertisement misspelled his name as Springstein.

But as a devoted WMMR-FM listener and college radio DJ, Greg Longmore knew he had to go hear the artist not yet known as the Boss. So he dragged friends through the rain to Uncle Al's Lounge in the Erlton Bowl, and watched Springsteen play for about a dozen people.

"The E-Street band was with him, including Clarence Clemons," Longmore, who was 20 at the time, recalls. "I was the only one standing. It was like Bruce was doing the concert for me."

POSTED: Monday, February 9, 2015, 3:55 PM
The Munger and Long department store once stood at Broadway and Federal in downtown Camden. Postcard image courtesy of DVRBS.com

Hardly a block of downtown Camden offers a continuous, traditionally urban array of buildings. Some blocks haven't had anything — other than a parking lot  — on them for decades. Others hold a single, suburban-style structure, such as a bank branch with a drive-through. 

Along Cooper Street, once the city's finest address, most of the surviving real estate is no longer residential or commercial, but rather,  institutional.  Even the 12-story Wilson Building at the corner of Cooper and Broadway, described as "Camden's First Skyscraper" when it opened in 1926, is being converted to educational use — and will be off the tax rolls.

Among the handful of other landmarks in this depressing, economically exhausted landscape is the Commerce Building, which rises eight stories above Broadway and Federal. Designed as a "mixed use" structure, with retail on the first floor and offices above, it was supposed to be downtown's salvation when it opened on the site of an extinct department store in 1965.

POSTED: Friday, February 6, 2015, 2:49 PM
Image courtesy of Mary Rizzo

Tours offering  a fresh look at a venerable Camden neighborhood are available online and on the ground -- thanks to an innovative "public  history" partnership.

The Center for Environmental Transformation invited Rutgers University assistant professor Mary Rizzo and several of her students to research key locations on the center's hour-long walking tour of the Waterfront South neighborhood. This section of South Camden along the Delaware River is home to Sacred Heart Church, the South Camden Theatre Company, other vibrant community institutions and organizations -- and numerous  environmentally damaged sites remaining from the city's industrial heydey.

"We've been doing what we call eco-tours since 2009," says Mark Doorley, the center's board chairman. "We identify the toxic properties and the brownfields, but also the places of rebirth."

POSTED: Thursday, February 5, 2015, 10:21 AM
Photo: Chrissmith.house.gov

US Rep. Chris Smith, R-NJ, who contends that LGBT people's rights differ from human rights, chaired a Congressional committee hearing Thursday about human rights in Cuba.

Smith, a noted champion of the rights of the (presumably heterosexual) unborn, may not be aware that LGBT people were persecuted by Cuba's communist government until relatively recently; Fidel Castro regarded homosexuality as a "bourgeois perversion." Or perhaps Smith has fallen for communist propaganda portraying Cuba as a "gay paradise."

But while it seemed unlikely, given Smith's definition of human rights, that LGBT humans would come up at the Cuba hearing, the Congressman did manage to inject gays into a Jan. 27 session about Africa -- inquiring whether the Obama administration's gay-friendliness has somehow hindered efforts to combat Boko Haram terrorists in Nigeria.

POSTED: Monday, February 2, 2015, 2:50 PM
Photo: Neil Hall/Reuters

Perhaps London's famous fog affects the brains of visiting Republican politicians differently than those of other American tourists.

How else to explain Gov. Christie's Mitt moment in Great Britain?

While the former Massachusetts governor/then-presidential candidate Romney  insulted the British in 2012 by implying that London might not be up to the task of hosting the Olympics, New Jersey's current governor/future presidential candidate inadvertently created an international firestorm Monday by seeming to suggest that at least some child vaccinations ought to be optional.

POSTED: Monday, January 26, 2015, 4:06 PM
Cover of new book by Cherry Hill authors Robert A. Shinn and Kevin Cook
A new book explores a South Jersey waterway's evolution from Native American transportation route to Colonial-era commercial thoroughfare, from industrial powerhouse to community development catalyst and destination for recreation.

Along the Cooper River – Camden to Haddonfield (Arcadia Publishing) is “an invitation to dig deeper” into the river's enduring importance for Camden County and the region, says Robert A. Shinn, who along with Kevin Cook wrote and researched the book. The two authors live in Cherry Hill and share a keen interest in local history; they also are leading an effort to have the county's Cooper River Park designated as an historic district.

Cook and Shinn set up a Facebook page about the book last week and already has nearly 400 likes; Along the Cooper River becomes available Monday, January 26 on Amazon.

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

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