July 31, 2006

A Day in the Pits – Some Observations. (Updated)

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jim @ 8:25 pm

Willies funny car up.jpg

My Friend Willie’s Funny Car

I would like to say that I had a great time at the drag races yesterday, the blistering heat notwithstanding, and if my buddy Willie will be competing next year, I’ll be there again. That said, here are some random observations about a day at the drag strip.

Tattoos are decidedly in at the drag strip. I saw a rather astounding display of body art on both men and women. I saw dozens of men and one woman whose arms were completely covered with tattoos. Several men were also liberally tattooed between their neck and belt-line. So were a few women, at least the part of their torsos that were uncovered.

Two people were particularly memorable.

The Runner Up: This guy’s arms and most of the tops of his hands were covered in tattoos. Although he was wearing a tee shirt, what appeared to be the uppermost portion of large tattoos appeared on his neck, leaving one to safely assume that the main portion of the creatures’ that were peeking above his tee shirt covered his entire torso. He was wearing big, wide leather wristbands with double buckles on each (the purpose of which, particularly in the heat, escaped me) and he had four rings pierced through his lower lip. Gross.

The Winner: The clincher was the guy who was shirtless and wearing shorts so that the world could see that he was covered in tattoos, but here’s the thing. He had tattoos covering his face! WTF?

I was trying not to stare, but it was difficult. Besides, I suspect that getting people’s attention is, at least in part, what motivates folks like this.

Debris Clearing, Oil-Sucking, and Jet-Drying
The unfortunate reality is that these high-horsepower monsters running full out for a quarter mile often blow up something or other on the car, resulting in “stuff” coming off the motor and oil spewing onto the track. This results in a rather frustrating amount of downtime while the debris is cleared and the oil is sopped up by a couple special oil-sucking machines. After the oil sucking is complete, the track is dried with a trailer-mounted jet engine that blows some serious air on the track.

The announcers have the daunting task of talking through these seemingly interminable debris-clearing, oil-sucking, jet-drying delays, much like baseball announcers who are forced to babble during rain delays.

The Track Announcers
There is quite an elaborate and effective public address system at the drag strip. Most of the announcing duties are taken care of by one person (with a sidekick as I recall). It is quite remarkable that these guys introduce each one of hundreds of runs all day and manage to keep it straight. And, they also know A LOT about cars and drag racing, which is a good thing, given that the regulars at the track are also extremely knowledgeable.

The announcers’ vast, albeit esoteric, knowledge stands them in good stead during the debris-clearing, oil-sucking, jet-drying delays. Unfortunately for me, much of it went over my head, as when the announcer would tell a rather longish story to his sidekick, with a punch line that would be something like, “the differential in a 63 Impala!!” Huh? The audience got it.

Seems to me that at least some of the debris-clearing, oil-sucking, jet-drying pauses could be filled with Sinatra music. It is Jersey, after all, and it would give the announcers (and those of us who aren’t hip to differentials) a farookin’ break.

Drinking and Drunks
Alcohol is reasonably well controlled. Before being permitted to enter the pits, each driver is asked whether there are any glass bottles or alcoholic beverages in the car. We had none of the above and said so, and, perhaps because we were decidedly “grownups”, no one searched the car. I suspect it might have been different if we had been a carload of twenty-somethings. It seems to me that it would be easy to get alcoholic beverages into the track, if you were willing to be turned away or have them confiscated if you were busted.

Beer is sold in a restricted area and those who prove their age (my proof is my face) are given a paper bracelet to wear. Beer can be bought ($4.00 a pop) in that area, and must be consumed there. Worked for us.

I only saw two, drunks and they were both women. One of them came right out of central casting for the part of a loud-mouthed, obnoxious bar hog (with several tattoos, I might add). The other one looked as though she probably arrived looking quite normal but somehow managed to get herself absolutely stumbling-ass shitfaced (I’m figuring she got plastered on “smuggled” booze, as I do not recall seeing her in the Beer Area).. Rather, we saw her in a refreshment area (soft drinks only). She was doing her damnedest not to look drunk (You know how that goes), but was doing a bad job of it (You know how that goes too).

She asked one of my buddies if the guy in the hotdog stand “took credit cards”. Like I said, she was shitfaced.

Noise, Fumes
Noise? Absolutely. Ear protection (or knowing when to stick your fingers in your ears) is an absolute must, particularly if you are in the area of the starting line. Fumes? Fumes –a-plenty –exhaust, burned nitro, and burned rubber. To the regulars, it is perfume.

In summary, if you are one who does not wish to rub elbows with the heavily tattooed, or finds esoteric discussions of compression ratios intolerable, and can’t stand LOUD noise, and smelly fumes, I suggest you consider polo. Then again, there was no horseshit at the drag strip.

UPDATE: As I mentioned, we left before Willie’s last run in order to prevent heat exhaustion. However, Willie called to let me know that he won his class (Alcohol-Fuel Injected). He also won for having the lowest E.T. (elapsed time) in his class. He also received the “Jungle Jim” Award for outstanding showmanship. Way to go, Willie!

July 30, 2006

Back to the Pits.

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jim @ 7:50 pm

As we did last year, three of the Usual Suspects and I spent the day here to watch our buddy Willie take a few short Sunday spins at 150+ mph in his funny car.

It was nostalgia day at the track, and nothing newer than 1972 was permitted to run. There were some seriously badass cars there, including front engine nitro-burning dragsters, one of which crossed the finish line at 253 mph. What’s particularly cool is how much gray hair there is under those helmets.

It was brutally hot, and we spent all day (eight hours) in the blazing sun, so even though Willie was in the process of quite possibly winning his class again, we left in order to avoid heat exhaustion.

It was a great day, but I’m beat.

July 29, 2006


Filed under: Uncategorized — Jim @ 1:22 pm

I’ve got a tough choice to make on this beautiful day.

Do I sit here in front of the computer and blog?


Do I go to The Deck, hang with the Usual Suspects and do some standing around in the water, drinking, eating tasty snacks and bullshitting swimming?

Tough choice, indeed.

See ya later!

July 28, 2006

Justice – Jersey Style.

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jim @ 9:55 pm

Zulima Farber.jpgBack in January, when Governor Corzine named Zulima Farber to the post of New Jersey’s Attorney General, Ms. Farber’s horrible driving record* became a subject of some discussion questioning the wisdom of naming her to be the chief law enforcement officer in the state. At that time, the Asbury Park Press opined that Ms. Farber was “grossly unqualified for the job.” The then-brand-new Governor was given the benefit of the doubt by most of the press and the public as well.

It only took about five months for things to go sideways when over the past Memorial Day weekend, Ms. Farber’s boyfriend, Hamlet Goore, was stopped by police at a seat-belt checkpoint and was found to be driving an unregistered van, and, according to the computer record available the police officer at the time of the stop, was driving while on the revoked list.** The officer summoned a tow truck to impound the vehicle, which is appropriate under the circumstances and is exactly what would happen to you or me.

However, if you happen to be the live-in boyfriend of the State Attorney General it doesn’t work out that way. While stopped, Mr. Goore called Ms. Farber, who shortly thereafter appeared on the scene in an official state-owned SUV driven by her official state chauffeur — a state police lieutenant. Witnesses report that the emergency lights on the state vehicle were flashing (although Ms. Farber disputes the part about the lights).

The chief law enforcement officer’s appearance at the scene with her state trooper driver in tow resulted in the tow truck being turned back, the arresting officer’s attempts to void two citations, and Mr. Goore’s being permitted to drive the vehicle to the house he shares with Ms. Farber. Link

Bad enough? No. It gets worse.

It seems that Mr. Goore, in fact, had paid the fine in 2005 to have his license reinstated, but there apparently was a screw up by the Motor Vehicle Commission in getting that information into the system. For regular peeps, that would mean a trip to a local Motor Vehicle Commission office get the mess sorted out.

However, if you happen to be the live-in boyfriend of the State Attorney General it doesn’t work out that way. Ms. Farber called her friend Angel Estrada, who is a Union County Freeholder and the Manager of the state Motor Vehicle Commission’s office in Elizabeth*** Mr. Estrada shepherded Mr. Goore through the process, which included making a phone call to the Motor Vehicle Commission’s Headquarters in Trenton and waiting on line with Mr. Estrada to get things properly sorted out. Link

Ms. Farber has apologized but refuses to resign, claiming (with a straight face) that she never sought any special treatment for her boyfriend.

Governor Corzine has appointed a special prosecutor to investigate all this, an exercise that will cost the New Jersey Taxpayers approximately $75,000 per month.

And the farookin’ beat goes on.

* Ms. Farber had 12 speeding tickets, one accident ticket, four bench warrants issued for her arrest for failure to appear in court, and three license suspensions. Link

** Mr. Goore’s driving record is also nothing to write home about, his license having been suspended ten times for various offenses, including excessive parking tickets and driving without insurance (mandatory license suspension in Jersey). Link

*** Yes, you read that right. Mr. Estrada is a Union County Freeholder AND the Manager of a State Motor Vehicle Office. This is, after all, New Jersey.

July 27, 2006

The History Boys.

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jim @ 7:36 pm

I saw the Broadway production of The History Boys.

The play is about a group of British students attending a special school session for the purpose of preparing for entrance exams into colleges, with each student’s ultimate goal being admission to Oxford or Cambridge. The interplay among the students and between the students and their teachers and the between the teachers and the headmaster is often very funny, sometimes emotionally heavy and always quite cerebral.

Perhaps it was the “cerebral” part that was the problem, particularly after a large lunch and a couple cocktails, for, in truth, I nodded off a couple times during the first act. Others in my group confessed to having done so as well.

The production very popular with critics and, indeed, won six 2006 Tony Awards, including the award for Best Play. This suggests to me that I should watch it again (perhaps when I’m hungry), but I won’t, given the price of Broadway show tickets.

If you’re in the mood for British accents and lots of not-quite-so-cerebral comedy, you might want to consider that Spamalot is playing in the theater next door to where The History Boys are.

July 26, 2006

Why Is New Jersey A Financial Mess?

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jim @ 10:29 pm

Here’s why.

July 25, 2006

A Surprise from Dixie.

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jim @ 8:22 pm

Poland Spring Bottle.jpgOver the weekend, several of the Usual Suspect gathered on The Deck to engage in meaningful discussion shoot the shit and have tea adult beverages and scones take-out Italian food. Usual Suspect Jeff, of assembling-my-new-grill fame, showed up and presented me with a gift.

“I brought this for Jimbo,” he said as he placed a bottle in front of me that looked exactly like the one shown to the left.

I was momentarily puzzled. Why would my pal give me a bottle of Poland Spring water? It’s very good water, but surely he knows that I have a couple cases of the stuff at home. I’m pretty sure that he does too.

I believe I said, “Thanks, but I don’t get it.”

He suggested that I open the bottle and give it whiff.

I did.

Holy Mason-Dixon Line! I’d know that bouquet anywhere!

As sure as you’re born, it was genuine, crystal-clear, corn squeezin’s “homemade wine”. Jeff explained that it came, via a friend, directly from North Carolina, where it was probably aged a full day.

Never having sampled this magic Dixie Elixir, the Usual Suspects at the table (all Jersey born and bred) each wanted a taste. (They get an A+ for having a spirit of adventure). I poured a small bit into a glass and passed it around.

The good news for me is that, to a one, they hated it. “Jesus Christ!!” “Holy shit!!” and “How can you drink this stuff?” were but a few of the comments, I heard, which were all interspersed with fits of coughing and choking.

Consequently, I brought damned near the entire bottle home and placed it in Mr. Freezer and, from which, I have enjoyed a post-work taste or two every night since. I tell you, my fellow Yankees, it is about the best post-hard day “calmer downer” there is.

And that’s just one of the many things I like about the South.

July 24, 2006

Grammy Material?

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jim @ 6:17 pm


I don’t think so. Maybe such a record would be “Crammy” Material. Actually, though, I think Denny and I could sell at least two of these.

We’d each buy one.

You too can “make your own record” here.

Via The Presurfer.

July 23, 2006

Ask Hillary. (Vol. 6)

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jim @ 1:32 pm

You’ve Got Questions? I’ve got Answers.
Because I’m Very Smart, and You’re … Very Not.

Dear Senator Clinton:

Who is your favorite Beatle?

Joan McDill

Dear Joan,

This one’s easy! LOL. Of course, it is JOHN!

Don’t get me wrong; I loved all the Fab Four, but Paul always seemed a little fruity to me, George always looked like he had lots of cavities, and Ringo – he sort of seemed like he could almost be, like, you know, — a republican. You know, he’s … like … sooooooooo stupid. LOL!

But, JOHN! OMFG! I was in college when “Sgt. Pepper” came out. I used to do lots of shrooms and stare at the cover while I played it on my stereo.

“Picture yourself in a boat on a river,
With tangerine trees and marmalade skies”

I’ll bet you didn’t know that I was the “girl with kaleidoscope eyes”. It’s true!!! I had sent him my picture and a lock of my hair, and next thing I knew, he wrote that song about me.

Then along came that bitch, Yoko. JOHN was supposed to be MINE. I had sent him lots of valentines and shit too.

They were some kickass shrooms.

Dear Senator Clinton:

Are you a Bob Dylan fan? I figure you must be, because you’re like totally smart and all.

Rachel Feingold.

Dear Rachel,

Girl, you must be pretty smart yourself, because you’re absolutely right on both counts. I am totally smart, and I am a super Dylan fan. OMG, I remember one time he came to play at Yale. Bill and I smoked a shitload of primo weed during the concert. It was sooooo cool. But that’s not the best part.

Bill had scored a couple backstage passes and we got to hang out with Bob and his crew, where we smoked some of the finest herb on the planet, let me tell you. It was groovy as hell. After smoking all that weed, Bill ate three pizzas, and I ate one of Bob’s dreamy groupies. It was a hoot! LOL!

Dear Senator Clinton:

I am a huge fan of yours, and I plan on voting for you in 2008. I will be starting law school in September, and I have often read that you are one of best women lawyers in the country, and I hope someday to be a most excellent lawyer too. I would appreciate it if you would send me a list of law review articles you have written and the landmark cases you have worked on so I can jumpstart my legal studies.

Very truly yours,
Mary Shannon

Dear Mary,

I have been looking all over for that list. I figure the damned dog must have eaten it.

Let me get back to you on that.

Previous Editions of “Ask Hillary”:

Vol. 1
Vol. 2
Vol. 3
Vol. 4
Vol. 5

July 22, 2006

Update on the Happy, Bragging Killer.

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jim @ 12:33 pm

Here is a photo of the miscreant I wrote about yesterday. It was taken during his arraignment.

happy bragging killer.jpg

Charming, isn’t he?

During his fifteen minute arraignment, he taunted the victims’ families in a Newark courtroom yesterday, winking at them, licking his lips, mouthing threats and shouting a profane insult that sent the distraught relatives storming into the hall.

Twice, he flashed a middle finger at them. Then, after pleading not guilty, Cuebas, 23, turned and shouted, “F– your family.

Here is a list of crimes that this Waste of Oxygen is currently being charged with.

As if they were not enough, this Fine Fellow claims that he also committed other crimes such as “…shootings in New York City, robberies in Orange [NJ] and the shooting of a 34-year-old man in New Brunswick [NJ] on July 30, 2005.” He’s been right when he boasted of the crimes for which is he is being charged. Sadly, I suspect he’s right about these crimes too.

Since it is extremely unlikely that he will ever be treated to a lethal injection, it looks like New Jersey’s taxpayers will be providing him with room, board (along with exercise facilities, medical care, books, educational opportunities, and free lawyers) for a long time.

And the beat goes on.

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