Tag Archive: HBO

The NJ Casino Windfall Is Dead. Long Live Atlantic City! – Part V

Burt Lancaster: “You should have seen the Atlantic Ocean in those days.”

Susan Sarandon: “Teach me stuff.”

Burt Lancaster: “You want information or wisdom?”

Susan Sarandon: “Both.”

Louis Malle’s Atlantic City movie – 1960.

Often not emphasized in discussing the Atlantic City “crisis” is the city itself, with its beautiful ocean, beach, boardwalk, storied history, and a population of 39,504. The rise of the railroad turned AC into popular destination resort starting in the 1850’s. HBO’s Boardwalk Empire shows us AC in the prohibition era of the 1920’s. After WWII as air travel became convenient and by 1960, AC is “showing its age,” and enters a decline. By 1970 the city begins the move toward casinos with hotels – huge structures, with big parking lots behind them all designed to keep visitors within the facility while at the same time moving A.C. residents and tourists in motels further away from the ocean. As one resident recently said, “The casinos didn’t care about Atlantic City.”

Today casino revenue is half what it was in 2006. The residents are in despair, knowing there will be change and hoping for a successful transition. It will take both information and wisdom for the next chapter. Gov. Christie provided some hype in a recent press release, and wisdom can be hard to come by, as priorities for poorer residents, the need for more affluent residents, casinos, city/state government politics, neighbors in the north wanting a piece of the action, and other business interests collide.

The immediate future is bleak as 6,000 casino workers will become unemployed in September and other local businesses and employees will feel the ripple effect. Different groups have joined to offer information and assistance starting this coming week at the convention center. Unemployment benefits will help, but the reality is that most will not find a job in AC nor nearby towns.

Economic development, such as off-shore windfarm production, enlarging its resort footprint, repurposing vacant casinos, and attracting new businesses, are important. Nonetheless in a city with twice the unemployment as the state average (and soon to rise much higher) former AC Mayor and now state Senator Jim Whelan, said recently, “In hindsight one of the things that we learned (is that) economic development is not a cure for social problems. The hardcore unemployed are a social problem. People don’t have the life skills, the job skills, to function in the workplace.” Almost all of the about-to-be-unemployed I interviewed in Part II of this series live outside the city.  

Below the fold are some of the needs of AC residents.


TONIGHT on HBO: High-tech police surveillance in Camden – it’s watching you

High-up observation posts with cameras. Thermal-imaging equipment. Police watching you, maybe even when you think you’re alone in your own home. These are the new police techniques of the new Camden County Police. HBO’s Vice, the news documentary series produced by Bill Maher, looks at the new realities of living in Camden, New Jersey.

Here’s a preview. The show’s on HBO tonight 11pm:

Gasland II HBO premiere tonite


Cory Booker just tweeted that he saw Gasland II and that it “echoed his feelings”. After three weeks of silence I was hoping for more than that, but I am hopeful if he had been for fracking before, that at least he had seen the movie and it may have changed his mind.

I urge all Progressive Dems to watch this film when it airs tonite.  It raises serious questions we need to ask our elected Democratic leaders here in NJ.  

The first film which I saw at a private screening with the producer a few years ago, shocked and saddened me. As a licensed water resources engineer in NJ who has studied and worked hard to appreciate the Clean Water Act and the Clean Air Act and the Safe Drinking Water Act, which every business needs to comply with – every business except one – the Gas and oil industry – I was stunned and appalled that The Energy industry is allowed to ignore these laws I spent my career trying to protect and uphold.  

What is so disturbing about the second film is the number of Democrats with high offices – Like Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, Former PA Gov, Ed Rendell, who have courted the Oil and Gas industry for campaign cash.  The new Netflix series – House of Cards even uses the issue – with Dems courting Gas lobbyists in the Delaware Basin. The plot strikes too close to home.

Although he is not in the film, but falling right into the playbook of pretending to care about the environment while not standing up on the fracking issue – falls Cory Booker – That Cory Booker, twitter addict who courts vegans – many of whom are decidedly against fracking. On the eve of the Fracking Waste Ban rally to overturn Chris Christie’s veto, the Bergen Dems had their convention to endorse a senate candidate – which turned out to be Booker.

I used to be a Committee person but no longer am due to my move to a new town.  I still have friends there who report to me what happens at these conventions closed to the media.  

That night one of these friends reported that a Committee person who is very concerned about fracking asked my source, what is Booker’s position on fracking.   My source told the committee person to ask Booker since he was standing nearby,  surrounded by a group of adoring Dems looking for autographs, pictures, or just to bask in the glow of the anointed frontrunner.  The Committee person returned, face fallen and reported directly to my source that they did indeed ask Booker his position and he said he was for fracking.  This Committee person also said that when they turned away, disappointed – they told Booker that he had just lost their vote.  

Independence Day – Brought to You by the Agitators

We owe this place to agitators like John Adams, for the very idea of it, and for the magnificent, messy fight it was even to say “these United States” out loud and for the first time. These men risked everything, and history tells us a considerable factor in urging that risk was John Adams, delegate of Massachusetts, and a difficult, prodding soul who may be the single most significant person in our country’s birth. Thomas Jefferson called him The Colossus of Independence.

Here is the scene in HBO’s series John Adams (Paul Giamatti, title role) of the vote, the stunned silence at what they’d just done, and the reading of their Declaration of Independence – a compromise, imperfect document that did not serve all Americans equally – to crowds gathered at the back of the State House. I like this scene because it also includes women reading, the brilliant Abigail Adams, the beloved young Abby. History also tells us that following these moments post riders were sent on horseback and the Declaration was read aloud at the Frelinghuysen Tavern in Bound Brook, at Nassau Hall in Princeton, on Albany Street in New Brunswick and in Trenton.

Below the fold, the Declaration in its entirety. Shout out to John Adams – and to Richard Stockton of Princeton, John Witherspoon of Scotland and Princeton, John Hart of Hunterdon County, Abraham Clark of Elizabeth-town and Francis Hopkinson of Salem. I bet you didn’t know Hopkinson designed the American flag.

The Chris Christie Connection in HBO’s ‘Game Change’ about Sarah Palin’s VP adventures

Maria Comella
Maria Comella

There’s a New Jersey connection in the hotly-anticipated HBO movie Game Change. In the 2 hour account of Sarah Palin’s spectacular deterioration from instant celebrity to bewildering laughing stock, it’s but a brief moment – you might miss it –  but it’s important. And what happened may be the reason Sarah Palin – arguably the most famous Republican in the country when Chris Christie began his run for governor – was never asked to come help out in Jersey (despite our best efforts) though gosh darn it, she did come for the Tea Party.

More below the fold …