January 8, 2008
This will be a very busy week in politics. The new state legislature is being sworn in today, with the highest turnover of lawmakers in a generation and with more women than ever in the history of New Jersey. It is before this new group that Governor Jon Corzine will deliver his third annual State of the State address. The big news expected to come out of that speech is the official unveiling of the governor's so-called Asset Monetization plan.
That plan is going to mean major toll increases, 50 percent every four years, (That is not a misprint.) beginning in 2010, on the NJ Turnpike, Garden State Parkway and Atlantic City Expressway, not to mention the creation of new tolls on route 440. On the bright side, says Corzine, the state will be able to borrow money against the future toll increases in order to pay down the debt and improve the state's infrastructure.
The plan is going to need approval from the legislature and that is not a given, especially given a new class of lawmakers and what is expected to be a collective gasp from motorists around the state.
We'll be keeping an eye on this all day day, after which we'll turn our attention to New Hampshire. Our interest in New Hampshire is not so much the results there, per se, but what they may mean for New Jersey's Democratic primary in February.
Senator Hillary Clinton has maintained a huge lead in New Jersey, but observers believe that if Senator Barack Obama wins New Hampshire big, as expected, New Jersey would be in play. With that in mind, Obama has scheduled an organizing rally for tomorrow in Jersey City.
In case you're wondering, here's how the state's Democratic big-wigs are lining up. Governor Corzine, Rep. Donald Payne and Senator Bob Menendez are down with Hillary, while Newark Mayor Cory Booker and Jersey City Mayor Jerremiah Healey are backing Barack. Prepare to be relevant New Jersey. Like Yung Joc said "It's goin' down!" - David Cruz
© 2008 WBGO
January 6, 2008
(Long ago mp3’s were stored on plastic, circular wafers known as LP’s…)
I’ve told this story to Rhonda Hamilton on the air and was reminded of it today when I came across my LP copy of “Joe Newman Quintet at Count Basie’s.” This is a terrific album from the great Basie trumpet man (‘43-’47 & ‘52-‘61), recorded live (with a very "live" audience) at the Count’s joint in NYC in 1961. It has smoking performances of “Caravan” and “Midgets” and features Newman, Oliver Nelson on tenor, Ed Shaughnessy on drums, Lloyd Mayers on piano and Art Davis on bass. I bought the record at a flea market about 10 years ago in great condition for maybe $3. $3!
Joe Newman was the first authentic jazz great I’d ever met. It was at a jam session in Newark’s Terrace Ballroom at Symphony Hall in the late 80’s. I was a kid trying to run a jam session and he was in his mid to late 60’s, I think, like royalty with all the younger players hanging around him. I don’t think he even played much, and if he did, it was very briefly. But I’ve always remembered that encounter for Newman’s easy politeness and overall grand hipness.
I was thrilled to have a Joe Newman-led live session. I don’t think there are too many on record. Are there? When I got the record home, I immediately threw it on the turntable. As soon as the needle hits the record, the band tears into Juan Tizol’s “Caravan,” and I mean they are cooking. The trumpet, muted, high-pitched and rapid, like if it was Diz or somebody like that. The drums, ripping at a furious pace and the bass strolling like a power walker. “Wow,” I thought. “Joe Newman is on fire!” After about 2:30 of the cut, the pace was still so intense that I thought surely they couldn’t sustain it. It took me another 30 seconds before I realized that the LP was actually playing at 45 rpm. I laughed, thinking how much of a jazz neophyte I was (and really still am.) But it sounded great!
This is what I do when I should be cleaning the house. – David Cruz
© 2008 WBGO
January 4, 2008
We've been hearing about the Iowa Caucuses for more than a year now, so it was great to finally get it over with. I usually look at all politics with a jaundiced eye, and the Iowa Caucus was no exception. It wasn't that big a surprise that Sen. Barack Obama and Governor Mike Huckabee won their respective races. The polls predicted the outcome in the days leading up to the vote. Still, Obama's victory speech took many of us by surprise. His delivery has changed some over the last 18 months, but I've always thought he was just a so-so orator. When he took the stage to address his supporters yesterday, though, he actually looked like someone who could be president.
Now, i'm not endorsing any candidate or any party, and I recognize that the winner of the Iowa Caucus doesn't automatically become the nominee (or the president.) But, if, as Obama suggested, we look back at yesterday as "the day it all began," his speech, with its measured cadence and perfectly-placed emotional punches, will be remembered right up there with the most significant in our political history. Just in case you missed it, you can see it below. - David Cruz
© 2008 WBGO