“The Exorcist” and “The Birds” In the environ air. A ride down the Jersey Shore thinking about the recent New Year

a blog from monmouth county by calvin schwartz


My head is swimming in melting snow, facts, minutia, resolutions and unrequited epiphanies. Just a few resolutions since the year is almost 2 months old. Can you jinx the big R(esolution) if you share it on a blog? Did I read in the Congressional Record that it cost $28 million to print the minutes of Congress? That’s a lot of French fries with sea salt. I tried that little girl with red pigtail’s French fries recently; it was loaded with freaking sea salt. I could’ve used each fry (singular?) as sand paper; salt just hung around abrasively. Can’t a fast food company deliver the poison without the salt? Salt kills; raises blood pressure and taxes the kidneys (tea in the harbor time). Nabisco(Kraft Foods) are working day and night to try and reduce the salt in Wheat Thins. They finally get it. Salt kills. Resolution; no more French fries; we threw them in the garbage(no more Wheat Thins until the salt is out. Speaking of French (I love my subtle segues), the 9 billion people projected to inhabit the Earth by 2050 need not starve in order to preserve the environment. A key report on sustainability came out recently based onJersey Shore Vacations: Cal Schwartz - Snowy Beacha 5 year model exercise by the French national agricultural and development research agencies. And I was really worried about sustainability; might even write a novel about it. In between January snow storms, I took a trip on a sailing ship and when I reached Jamaica and Belmar, I stopped. The abandon (tinged in white snow piles) of the Jersey shore in winter is priceless. Maybe every Garden State resident ought to drive up Ocean Avenue past a few towns and look at quaint, history, the ‘Summer of 42,’ the Atlantic; all beckoning and remindful that we’re supposed to have emerged from the sea. Meanwhile ‘The Summer of 42’ is a magic carpet ride; especially the drug store scene with an extra helping of jimmies(sprinkles if you’re from Brooklyn) and prophylactics(am I dating myself?) hidden well behind the druggist’s counter.

I passed Spring Lake with its Victorian ambience. A return trip to mother earth someday would find me in a house with seven gables facing the ocean. Movies were made in Spring Lake. Next stop Belmar. I recently found a picture of a group of young people posing for a picture on the beach, everyone bunched together, lying on laps; it was dated August 1937. Distant deceased dear cousins making merry, happy and content, far away from what was happening in Germany. I thought about the war (on the other side of the ocean) as I parked facing the boardwalk. And I thought human potential, determination and co-operation. In the late 1930’s, it took 300 days to make a cargo ship. Then the war came in December 1941 so it took 200 days. Then 100 days. Still not fast enough for the war effort. Then in 1943 it took one day. Next stop Bradley Beach, the place of Jersey Shore Vacations: Cal Schwartz - Stone Ponymy ascension in 1968; so many remodeled homes; probably around $1 million each now. Finally Asbury Park and passed the ‘Stone Pony.’ Another R(esolution); if I make that return trip to early Earth, I’ll see Bruce there. And I’ll get to Woodstock, Haight-Ashbury and Monterrey. What a wonderful idea popped; similar to Kramer’s Peterman bus tour; I’ll hit all the aforementioned spots one carefree summer (and Sedona). I’d also go to Wellington in the tiny Cook Islands (population 12,000) in the Pacific but they got their first case of HIV positive and their government doesn’t know what to do.

Jersey Shore Vacations: Cal Schwartz - The BirdsThe movie ‘The Birds’ scared the hell out of me even though I saw Hitchcock in the beginning standing outside a pet store reading a newspaper (nice personal touch). The colorization with partly cloudy skies all the time and sense of impending doom, aviary tension with slow methodical build up has me still talking and thinking. Thousands of birds recently fell from the sky in Arkansas (blackbirds on New Year’s Eve). Birds fell from the sky in Louisiana and Kentucky too. Sweden reported 50 bird deaths a few days later. Are they Hitchcock’s birds resigning environmental devastation? A revolt or revolting development? Two million fish washed up dead in Chesapeake Bay. The Baltimore Sun said it happened twice before (winter kills). But no one has an explanation why. Of course we lost plenty of fish as a result of the Deepwater Horizon spill. Curious how many of us, sort of, kind of forgot about that. In August residents of Fairhaven, Massachusetts noted thousands of Menhaden fish were washing up on beaches. No real explanation why, except maybe the fish are sensitive to environmental changes. All these examples of strange ‘kills’ with empty explanations make me think of “The Exorcist;” another movie which scared the hell out of me.

Jersey Shore Vacations: Cal Schwartz - The ExorcistExorcist? Why you ask? Pharmacology made me do it. A little girl utters profanities as part of her condition (presumably Tourettes) when there is no way she could’ve ever heard those words before. So the medical establishment doesn’t delve but doses her up with haloperidol, a powerful tranquilizer. Fish and birds are dying and authorities dose us all with causal tranquilizing statements about lightning, cool or warm temperatures and too much sea salt on the French fries. In the first week of this new year, officials in Kent, England reported that devil crabs were washing up on the coastline in massive numbers(40,000) The experts blamed the UK’s coldest winter in 120 years; perhaps an exorcism of reality. Let’s not leave Brazil out. A hundred tons of dead sardines and catfish landed on their beaches. I love their excuse; environmental imbalance; another dose of exorcising tranquilizer for all of us. And Italy. A thousand birds and two turtle doves in Faenza, Italy were found dead (beaks stained). Check out this exorcised excuse tranquilizer: the birds stuffed themselves with sunflower seeds from an industrial site. Now to Afghanistan and birds (not dying) but disappearing. Birds there are instrumental in getting rid of locusts and vermin. In huge numbers Myna chicks wind up in Iran because they fetch a lot of money. When caught in villages they get 50 cents for each one. In the town of Herat they bring $5.50 a bird. In Iran they sell for $40. Moving on: 5 killed and 7 arrested as South Africa clamps down on rhino poachers. And while on an animal subject, according to an Austrian study, love does not only make humans dazed and confused, it also has similar effects on guinea pigs. Who pays/authorizes for these studies? Better appropriations to tell us why birds and fish are dying.

Cal Schwartz Doves

Back to my Jersey shore ride. Notice I perseverate about Jersey shore (a little coat tail effect to the TV show) I like talk about absurdities. I worry about environmental issues and the fact that 48 fishing nations couldn’t agree in November to protect the spawning grounds of the vanishing Atlantic Blue Fin tuna. My hand is raised from the back of the room while the whole class watches a little boy’s tongue stuck to a frozen pole. Why?  Because a big blue fin tuna just fetched a record $396,000 in Tokyo. Well it’s the new year. Nothing changes.  Hey, you either get it or you don’t; that’s a wonderful epiphany. Notice I didn’t capitalize ‘new year’ and my Microsoft word just underlined it in green. Green is a wonderful color and theme. Back to resolutions. Resolve to eat more squash and other orange and green vegetables; they are high in alpha carotene and people with the highest levels enjoyed a 39% lower risk from dying(from any cause). Somebody out there please tell us why the birds, bees and fish are passing away. All of a sudden I see ‘Norma Rae’ standing on top of a bench with a sign ‘Union.’ I think of the union of American people who could build a cargo ship in one day because of co-operation. Then I think of the place where laws are made with two distinct aisles. Imagine time: I’m driving down Ocean Avenue in a red convertible with a surf board protruding. It’s going to be a bumpy winter and spring. I can’t wait for all the birds who abandoned New Jersey for points south to come back. I think I’ll buy a bird feeder; a good last resolution.

OK if you haven’t check out book trailer for novel Vichy Water here’s link for youtube.

Also there’s a movie coming out in April 2011 (Born to be Wild) narrated by Morgan Freeman. Please do yourself a favor and check this movie trailer.

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