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Category Archives: Monmouth County

Behaving badly on the internet and in print has consequences. It’s basic internet 101 every blogger learns either the hard way or through the misdeeds of others. Word of mouth now travels at the speed of light, thanks to Technorati, Google, and other blogs. Sometimes, it goes beyond that, especially if one makes other people really, really mad. Thanks to Blogspot and WordPress, having an Internet presence is now free and easy. Plus, domain hosting is relatively cheap. So, if you make somebody really mad, or thoroughly amused by incompetence, they can respond in kind. It doesn’t matter if people can take a joke or not or if political correctness abounds in our society, as other bloggers have argued. Now, there’s a Boycott Belmar website. True, Pringle may have retreated from his blog and newsletter, but now, if one were to stick “Belmar” and “tourist” into a Google blog search, one’s going to still going to find references to his attitude towards tourists. That’s not good for Belmar, especially when somebody is on the internet surfing around and wondering, “Gee, I wonder which shore town I should spend a week in.” This is just another reason why Mayor Pringle should have known better.

The infamous July 4 Newsletter can be found here.

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I like to measure failure by the amount of media coverage it gets. A few posts back, I mentioned a Asbury Park Press Story on Mayor Pringle of Belmar, New Jersey. He tried, from his office, to write a satirical newsletter about tourists that frequent the Jersey Shore. Now, it seems like the negative coverage has forced Mayor Pringle to apologize for his tongue-in-cheek statements. Via the Associated Press:

BELMAR, N.J. (AP) – Belmar’s mayor says he’s sorry for disparaging comments that he made in the town’s July 4 newsletter.

Ken Pringle says the newsletter is tongue-in-cheek satire meant to curb the behavior of rowdy renters and visitors to the Monmouth County beach town.

However, some people were offended by the July 4 edition which played on stereotypes featuring “Staten Island girls,” “blondes” and Italian-Americans as “Guidos.”

A story about two women who couldn’t figure out how to take out their garbage appeared under the headline “Let us guess . . . they’re blonde.”

Describing a fight involving a Staten Island woman, the mayor wrote, “Journalistically speaking, “SI woman punches other woman’ is right up there with “Dog bites man.”

Pringle says he probably stepped over the line.

He DID step over the line. When you’re a mayor, your job is to govern and oversee policy and think about the well being of your municipality — your job is to not sit around and dream up ways of making snark on “Staten Island Girls.” And as such, he deserves to be voted out of office. It may be vogue to hate on tourists, but one has to know, they are a significant source of revenue for Jersey Shore towns. This link right here is an example of that, as Pringle’s comments have pushed potential visitiors away from Belmar.

Living at the Jersey Shore has some benefits, but there’s a real detraction in the summer months: tourists. It’s hard to find parking, the roads are stuck in gridlock, and there’s plenty for other things. Shore dwellers have a name of the tourists: BENNYs. It’s an acronym for

Bayonne, Elizabeth, Newark, and New York

And for some, there’s a definite hatred involved when they use it. You see this on stickers and t-shirts, to, as in “Benny Go Home!” Sure, some of that vitriol is well placed, but it can also be counter productive and destructive. Basically, if you go to an open town council meetings in places like Avon-by-the-Sea, and here officials talk about their town’s finances, you’ll notice two significant chunks of revenue: property taxes and the sale of beach badges during the summer months. All the of the businesses, too, within a shore municipality, also receive an uptick in sales/patronage. So, while tourists can be annoying, they still contribute the economic prosperity of places like Belmar. Also, driving tourists away from your town is akin to shooting yourself in the foot, as Mayor Pringle of Belmar has done. Consider this story from the Asbury Park Press:

BELMAR — Oh, no, he didn’t.

Such was the reaction from a group of young Staten Islanders huddled on the boardwalk Tuesday morning, gasping as they read a recent edition of Mayor Kenneth E. Pringle’s summer newsletter — complete with its jabs at “Staten Island girls,” “Guidos,” and blondes.

“That’s like us calling all Jersey girls skanks!” 20-year-old Samantha Padovano exclaimed after reading a story about a hairspray-wearing “SI girl” whose bar fight “ended the way most fights with SI girls do” in the July 4 issue of the Belmar Summer Rental News.

Jersey-ites of all stripes routinely complain about being stereotyped by Philadelphians, New Yorkers, and the rest of the country. Yet, sometimes, they stereotype others themselves. It’s a mocking sort of superiority complex, and you’ll find it in every region. Northerners make fun of southerners, and vice-versa. Still, if you’re the dully elected representative of a municipality, one would think you’d work hard to keep the economic interests of that municipality in mind. As for this particular gaffe, it’s par for the course for Pringle:

Pringle begins writing the weekly newsletter in June, just as thousands of beach lovers descend on this milelong borough, and he posts it on the Belmar Web site. He also prints up, at his own expense, enough copies for special police officers and code enforcement officials to deliver to the borough’s 300 summer rental units, he said.

The publication’s goal, Pringle said, is to show renters how year-round residents perceive their conduct and to educate the renters about local laws on everything from “animal houses” to trash pickup.

“They come here thinking that they can get away with all this stuff and no one will bother them,” he said. “The newsletter is a way to repeatedly drum into them . . . what the rules are.”

And it works, Pringle added. Since last year, when Belmar began distributing the newsletter, the borough has seen a decrease in the number of summonses issued to renters, the mayor said.

That’s well and nice, but there’s tactful way he could have done this. It may lack verve or sarcasm, but a plainly spoken publication, more interested in facts than barbs, could get the job done quite easily. Sure, Pringle’s newsletter may have caused a decrease in summons, but driving away tourists is going cause all rates to go down too, not just summonses:

Longtime borough resident Pat Melango, however, said she has seen a different trend. Fewer people come to Belmar each summer, because of the attitude toward visitors that is displayed in the newsletter, she said.

Agreed.

“We’re supposed to be a tourist town,” Melango, 72, said. “We’re not inviting tourists.”

Lets see, in the span of two years that I lived in Asbury Park, a heroin addict lived in the apartment above mine. He had yip-yappy dogs that yipped and yapped and scurried across the floor late into the night. Our appartment got broken into, and my wife’s lap top got stolen as a result. My teaching bag — which is a computer bag, only with papers, not computer in it — was stolen out of my car, only to be found blocks away, on a small island in a man made lake. Beer cans surrounded said bag. Strange people, in the middle of the night, would show up on my porch, lookng for Mr. Heroin Addict. The house across the road got raided, rather publically on the news, as a crack house. I had a bicycle stolen. Somebody broke into the basement and stole the communal washer and dryer. That’s right, huge, bulky, heavy appliances had been unhooked, carried up some steps, and apparently loaded onto a truck.  And one or two murders occured within two blocks of my home.

Trust me, I know Asbury Park, rather well. This wasn’t the late 1990’s ghost town either, but the tail end of 2004, 2005, and part of 2006.

And I don’t hold a grudge, either.

I say this, because when I come across this Asbury Park Press story, it made me very happy:

A downturn in crime that made last year the best in the city in a decade is continuing so far this year, according to reports for the first half of 2008.

Police Chief Mark Kinmon released statistics through the end of June showing one murder compared with three at the halfway point last year. There were reports of 69 robberies compared to 86 halfway through 2007, two rapes compared with six at the same time last year, and 62 aggravated assaults compared with 74 as of June 30 last year.

The reduction in homicides, if it continues, is significant, following the high of eight in 2006 and six last year. The city, like many urban communities, was hit hard with young people, often gang members, shooting and killing each other.

“We feel we’re making a lot of progress on the gangs,” Kinmon said. “The county (Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office) continues to be a big help.”

Maybe we really are on the cusp of an Asbury Park Rebirth — complete, this time, not partial. I hope so.

Sometimes, there’s something more depressing than a cemetery, and that’s a forgotten cemetery that’s not kept up.  A few days ago, while frantically trying to find a job, I passed this on Squankum Road, near Farmingdale, in Monmouth County.  At least it’s marked — there are old cemetaries out in the countryside of North Carolina that are not only not marked, but completely overgrown.  A list of who is there can be found here.

All I could find on a quick search about this was this sentence at the Red Bank Visitor Center:

Built in 1894 by Mrs. E. Weis, a milliner (hatmaker), after two of her rented stores were destroyed by fires.

If I said, “Kevin Smith comes from New Jersey,” I’d expect a smart-ass reply of, “No? Really?” The same would apply if I also said, “He likes comic books and Star Wars.” Well, he owns two comic book stores, one in LA, and the other in Red Bank, New Jersey. You can buy more than comics there too, as there’s a sizable amount of memorabilia and collectibles from Smith’s movies.

Empty.  Just like I mostly remember it.  For years, though, it was worse off, with rotting boards.  This picture is a couple of years old, I think.  Circa 2005, I think.

Sometimes, the most stark, simplistic designs can be the most evocative.  For example, one of the 9/11 memorials in Howell NJ are to simple concrete pillars.  It seems much more tasteful, then, say, a scale replica exact to the number of windows.

The one on the late Ambassador Hotel was kind of faded with age. This one’s a little rusty, but posted here for context.