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Everything You Always Suspected--
After 2 Dozen Cups of Strip Mall Joe

Carola Von Hoffmannstahl-Solomonoff
Publisher and Editor


to QT #24. Where an open door policy to non partisan reform is the norm. Those Republicans. Those Democrats. Knee deep in the Big Muddy? Hell no. They won't go till the well runs dry. These guys (and gals) are sloshed to the eyeballs. Each day brings a new excuse to overindulge. Security! Economic development! Transportation! Short & sweet--


Streets are crime and terrorist free as spycams swivel coyly on every corner. Cops spend their time blowing smoke rings in community meetings and cruising on automatic. Eyes fixed on the horizon. No slums to foot patrol. Politicians, cronies and small spud speculators finally finished sucking up HUD and a few bucks trickled down to the poor. Who were granted predatory mortgages on historic shanties. The debt ridden but shack proud underclass have meaningful jobs in the non polluting tech centers every city in the country has become. They travel the few blocks twixt work and home in clean dependable public transportation which New Urbanists ride as well as advocate. On the quaint neo street cars no one ever passes out in a pool of urine or screams obscenities when the driver asks for their zoner. A transportation revolution made possible by an ocean of ISTEA* which washed away all such behavior as well as the congested highways that carried sitcom Kulaks to suburban dachas. Drug addiction? No problemo thanks to legalization. Statistically successful rehab programs flourish, supported by sales tax dollars collected from incorporated drug dealers. And by the profits generated from Unca Samz Own Stash. Averting our eyes from this vision we consider the


QT says thanks to some sharp eyed readers who spotted bloopers in the past two issues. From Albany, New York, Renee reminded QT that the "middle" school on lower Western Avenue is actually an elementary school. All the more reason why drug dealers should be kept out of her nabe. And kudos to the Man About Manhattan who corrected the song writing credit for "Stop! In The Name Of Love" to "Holland Dozier Holland". As opposed to the other way around. Great toonsters done wrong by creeping dyslexia. From beautiful Jersey City came an inquiry whether QT had been thinking burgers when Mayor Dave Roberts of Hoboken, New Jersey was briefly renamed Dave Thomas. Possibly, but the slip may have been musical. David Thomas, of Rocket From The Tombs and Pere Ubu, did vocals on "Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo". An old song with new immediacy. Just like


"You may leave here for four days in space, but when you get back it's the same old place." So sang Barry McGuire before the end of history. Speaking of same old same old another politician has been bagged in the great Northeastern corruption roundup. Irvington, New Jersey Mayor Sara B. Bost has broken the glass ceiling and joined the boys club of mayors facing federal corruption charges. Among the issues arising in Irvington are alleged bribes from paving contractors and odd goings on within the police internal affairs unit. Irvington is home base for United Gunite Construction, Inc. Gunite is all wound up in the recent corruption indictments of Paterson Mayor Marty Barnes (Gunite built the waterfall in Barnes' backyard pool) and the just announced FBI investigation of Essex County Executive and senatorial hopeful James Treffinger. While these folks are Republicans, Gunite also made major contributions to Democratic federal, state and local candidates. Three of "their" Jersey Democratic mayors are tangled in corruption cases. Irvington (pop 60,000) has the highest crime rate in Jersey and was once upon a time blue collar. The jobs that go with this sobriquet are long gone. Where? Probably Over There-- paying 25 cents an hour. Could this be yet another city awash in charity for the well connected? Where residents get no return on the social contract? Not even time off for good behavior?


New and used bookstores, used record and CD stores, music instrument shops, Sci-Fi and comic book emporiums, inexpensive ethnic restaurants, art supply stores, junk/collectable/antique palaces, coffee bars: the commercial establishments beloved by bohemia are increasingly found in strips on secondary highways. Southern California pioneered the boho strip mall scene. Now it's noticeable in the northeast, including upstate New York. Highway 9W in New York State runs along the west side of the Hudson River, more or less parallel with the New York State Thruway. 9W cuts through the rear end of numerous cities and long corridors of strip malls. It also passes through suburbia, rural areas and main drags of small towns. The 11 mile stretch between the city of Albany and the village of Ravena could be called


Heading down 9W to Ravena one can meet God in a Pentacostal church that looks like the Grand Old Opry crossed with J.R. Ewing's Southfork Ranch. Or attend a pre Vatican II Tridentine Mass at a clapboard spin off from the Roman Catholic Church and walk in an ornate meditation garden right next to the highway. Or do Karate for Christ in a mini ghost mall. Winter winds brought a section of movie screen tumbling down at the Jericho Drive-In. 9W hairpins through graveyards with tombstones lining both sides. Convenient for those just rushing towards death. Trailer parks lend a southern flavor. Burt Reynolds, where art thou? In one of those trailers a philosopher inevitably sits, pondering the paradoxes of Zeno recast in modern terms: just how does the tortoise outstrip the truck? Amidst factories and farms, roadhouses promise home cooking. A down-on-his-luck guy might buy the come-hither delivered by waitress Cora or Mildred and fall even further. But ultimately, everyone comes to


A huge Ravena Flea Market with stock ranging from nails to dressers. Sorted carefully with all flaws noted. "As is" on a chipped 50 cent saucer. Important investments require disclosure. The hubbub and camaraderie of a treasure hunt rises from the aisles. Patrons run the gamut. Antique hunters rub shoulders with Mexican migrant workers seeking a ten dollar TV. Pink haired hipsters want paintings of Jesus on black velvet. Immigrants from eastern Europe, experienced in the art of cobbling together computers from Speak N' Spell chips, scavenge the electronics bins. Young couples on a budget look for replacement parts for appliances and children are drawn by the charms of discarded toys. A pile of half dressed, wild haired Barbies beckon, as do boxes of plastic figures from Disney promotions of the recent past. The Little Mermaid. The Lion King. Like yesterday's politicians, they seem puzzled by the fleeting nature of prominence.


The Helderbergs, at the top end of the Catskills, lie to the west of highway 9W. These rough hewn smaller mountains were among the hot spots of upstate New York's Anti-Rent Wars of the 19th century. Vast holdings of land in the upper Hudson Valley and Catskill Mountain area were granted by the Dutch government to wealthy Dutch citizens in the 18th century. These landowners were called Patroons. Some never lived on their land. Others did and fancied themselves manor lords. The system by which the Patroons leased land to tenant farmers was close to feudal. Though the basic system was outlawed at the end of the 18th century, a politically protected derivation continued well into the 19th. A long and sometimes bloody series of uprisings by tenant farmers, plus more peaceful political action, eventually toppled the system. The rebel farmers took inspiration and tactics from the American Revolution. To avoid recognition they dressed for guerilla warfare in disguises-- including calico dresses and leather masks. When so dressed they called themselves "Indians", as did similarly clad participants of the Boston Tea Party when dumping British tea into Boston Harbor.


So begin letters by modern day tenants in New York City as they attempt to squeeze repairs out of psycho cheapskates convinced no deprivation is too high a price for the honor of an apartment in NYC. How to squeeze effectively, plus other helpful hints for tenants, can be found at Rent Wars: the website, the newsletter and the television show. The latter is available on Public Access in 400,000 homes in Brooklyn and 1.3 million homes in Manhattan. Each Rent Wars endeavor reflects a creative and strangely fun approach to the ever raging and deadly serious NYC housing wars. Though in no way related to the historic tenant farmers movement the spirit of Rent Wars is decidedly guerilla. Even without the calico dresses. Check the Online Forum at the Rent Wars website. Forums can be a ramble among lurking loonies but this one stays on target with sharp topics and NYC style. Rentwars maestro Ronin Amano acts as ringmaster.


As of the next biweekly issue, On The QT will begin alternating with all picture "PEEP". Subject matter will range from political satire, to art for Art's sake. Who is Art? Find out in PEEP. Guest contributors each issue. Further on down the road: a QT Internet movie "Jersey City Venus" starring the late, great Donna Lee Malone. Also, QT's mailing list is being reformatted. If you stop receiving, it's an error you can correct by resubscribing. And remember-- if it bugs you and/or makes you laugh, pass it on. If it copies QT will run with it.

"Aristocracy is not an institution: aristocracy is a sin; generally a very venial one. It is merely the drift or slide of men into a sort of natural pomposity and praise of the powerful, which is the most easy and obvious affair in the world."

G.K.Chesterton, "The Eternal Revolution," Orthodoxy

"The incidents, the places, my friend, we cannot keep this a secret any longer. Let us punish the guilty; let us reward the innocent..."

Criswell, Plan 9 From Outer Space

Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act. Passed in 1991 the law allocates billions of dollars from the federal gasoline tax. The question of misuse of ISTEA funds (sometimes called "free money") has arisen in some Northeast federal corruption cases. Planning processes regarding use of ISTEA funds are required by law to involve high levels of public participation. However, federal oversight is difficult since true public participation is hard to accurately assess from afar.
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Crumpling HUD bux blowing in the wind.
updated 4/21/2002