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Happenings In and Around in Jersey City

by Ricardo Kaulessar


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  For those reading this column at this very moment, I say welcome to the wonderful people of Jersey City and beyond in what I hope will the first of many editions of a weekly column called Ricardo About Town by yours truly. This column will be for the most part about happenings in and around the big J.C. and sometimes about the world outside Jersey City. So now instead of blathering on, let me start writing about what matters...

The day that I am writing this column happens to be September 11th 2003, the 2nd anniversary of what is the most tragic date so far in the young 21st century. A day that I can recall by remembering a now famous report from WCBS-AM reporter Tom Kaminski, who in a helicopter hovering above the George Washington Bridge at approximately 8:50 AM of that sunny Tuesday morning, noted that a ball of fire followed by a stream of smoke coming from the direction of the World Trade Center. I was driving to my job located near Paramus N.J. and not paying much attention. Just chalking up his observations to a sudden explosion on a lone floor.

Boy, would I be proven wrong as by noon that day, I was hightailing it out the office and driving away in my 1989 Nissan 240 SX, on my way toward Jersey City. Once I was safely ensconced in my home, it was almost twenty-four hours of seeing almost every conceivable video and picture of the two planes flying into the Twin Towers and people running for their lives from the crumbling structures, the Pentagon in flames and the Pennsylvania countryside littered with the remains of the passenger jet that blew up in mid-air. Thousands of lives lost including the nineteen terrorists who were on the four planes, responsible for those heinous acts.

And now two years later, amidst all the commemorations, candlelight vigils, ceremonies, speeches by posturing politicians, crass and over-sentimentalized TV and radio reports and the shameless attempts at exploiting survivors' grief and pain by the White House (Bush's absence for Ground Zero is enough for a whole year's worth of columns), the question that should be posed by the mainstream media is WHY ISN'T SEPTEMBER 11TH A NATIONAL HOLIDAY?

That's a question that probably has many answers but none that would probably be satisfactory enough for anyone who lost loved ones in those locations during that hour-plus period of that has marked September 11th, 2001 in the history books.

On the local scene, there were ceremonies throughout Hudson County, including a candlelight vigil which at City Hall, where hundreds of local residents in a procession, led by Mayor Glenn Cunningham, made their way to Exchange Place. There were speeches by the Mayor and other staffers from the Mayor's office, several musical presentations and a silent prayer.

And while there was criticism by those attended about the political nature of the vigil and the lack of organization in putting together the event, one should have stripped away the extras of the vigil and looked carefully at the over hundred people who came out to pay their respects. Many of the attendees probably would never live next to each other, never mind stand next to each other in the same place. The candlelight vigil gave those who wanted to remember 9/11 an opportunity to share a moment of grief, mourning and love with others.

In other news, with the recent passing of longtime Jersey Journal political columnist Peter Weiss, readers who miss the inside gossip and news on the backroom dealings and shady maneuvers of Hudson County and state politics at large would do well to check out two columnists who will definitely fill the void - Al Sullivan of the Jersey City Reporter and Jay Stevens of The Urban Times News.

Recommended reading for About Town readers: 9-11 by Noam Chomsky (2001; Seven Stories Press). The book is a compilation of interviews that longtime MIT professor, and noted political scholar and commentator Chomsky gave in the two months after September 11, 2001 in which he lays out the various questions and answers that were not asked by the mainstream press but sheds light on that day of terror. Whether you're a fan of his work or not, Chomsky provokes a great deal of thought on the ideologies and actions that brought about the attacks and their aftermath.

So I hope this column has readers information that challenges, that enlightens, that infuriates and that even stupefies. Any comments, praise and insults can be sent to Otherwise, thank you for the time and courtesy. And until next time....

Ricardo Kaulessar - email

(201) 356-1300 x6287 - voicemail/fax




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