Tag Archives: Superstorm Sandy

The damage

This afternoon I took a drive along part of the Jersey Shore. It wasn’t a long drive — in fact, I spent more time getting there than I did driving through it. I started at Point Pleasant with the idea of heading south, but I only got as far as Bay Head before I encountered a roadblock on Route 35 South.  But I saw plenty of damage and, as far as I could tell, not nearly enough work done to bring things around before summer. At least, not to my untrained amateur eye.

You’ve seen the pictures of the devastation wrought by Sandy. Along Point Pleasant, though, I was struck by the amount of sand covering everything. It sat in heaps along the curbs and covered long stretches of sidewalk. There was a small mountain of bulldozed sand in the municipal parking lot. Again, I’m no expert on these things, but I wonder if that sand isn’t something akin to toxic waste by now. As with the flood water that inundated New Orleans, there must have been chemicals, sewage, and other crud in the water left behind by the storm. Does that sand have to be disposed of instead of being spread along the beach?

Things looked a little better in Bay Head, where people have enough money to start rebuilding on their own. But I glanced down some of the beachside cul-de-sacs and saw badly damaged houses propped up by fresh lumber. Outwardly fine houses had piles of debris at the curbside. I had a camera with me, but I thought about how it would feel to see passersby-by snapping images of what was left of my family home. After that, the camera stayed on the back seat.

I was already disgusted by the Republican politicking over relief funding for survivors of the disaster. As is usually the case with this strain of post-Gingrich wingnuts, there is no such thing as rock bottom — just when you think they can’t get any lower, they find a way to surprise you. I might suggest that Rep. Steve Palazzo, the Mississippi Republican who voted against relief for Sandy’s victims after welcoming such relief for his constituents following Hurricane Isaac, be forced to camp on that hill of sand and explain to all and sundry why this was the time to start — what did he call it? — a discussion on the need for disaster relief reform. But we have enough riffraff of our own without importing any from other states. I’d much rather see the riffraff swept out of Congress entirely.    

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Joltin’ Joel

One of the surprises of watching the benefit concert for Hurricane Sandy relief was seeing Billy Joel give a polished, thoroughly professional performance of songs that had obviously been chosen with some thought. I’ve never been the world’s biggest Billy Joel fan — not even a medium-sized one — but I thought his set put the wheezy sets by the Rolling Stones and The Who completely in the shade. Though I’d be deeply grateful never to hear “Piano Man”or “It’s Still Rock and Roll to Me” ever again, I nod along whenever a tune from An Innocent Man comes along on the radio, which happens often enough to keep me from feeling I actually need to buy one of the man’s discs. So what is it about the man’s work that inspires the level of venom in this piece and that piece? I’ve heard detractors call him pretentious and self-important — is there a building big enough to hold all the rock musicians guilty of those sins? He’s sometimes a Dylan manque? Who isn’t? The Tablet writer takes Joel to task for pretending to be a man of the people. Ooooh, snap. Next he’ll be telling us Mick Jagger isn’t a sharecropper’s son, or John Fogerty wasn’t actually born on a bayou. It all seems so out of proportion, So what gives? 

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