Letters to the Editor
POPCORN POPCORN POPCORN POPCORN POPCORN ™
By Michael S. Goldberger
Or... What’s in The Box?
OnePopcorn, Poor• TwoPopcorns, Fair• ThreePopcorns, Good• FourPopcorns, Excellent
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Richard P. Murray
and Humanities Month Features An Array of Events in Union County
The arts will be on center stage all this month in the GardenStateduringthe entiremonthofOctober as New Jersey celebrates national Arts & Humani Month. In recognition of this promotion, The Westfield Leader and The Times of Scotch Plains and Fanwood will be publishing a series of articles on community theater. The first of these stories, featuring the Cranford Dramatic Club, appears in this week’s paper.
The articles will continue with stories on the Westfield Community Players, the Philithalians of Fanwood,andUnionCounty ArtsCenterinRahway inthe issuesofOctober15, 22and29,respectively.
part of the month long theme, the New Jersey CulturalAlliancehasdistributed abookletofevents planned with the full array of arts and humanities.
We believe there are a number of particular events. For instance, a fall festival featuring a celebration of craft demonstrations and entertain mentwill takeplacenextSunday, October18,atthe MillerCory House Museum in Westfield.
As far as musical performances are concerned, the sounds of Motown will be coming to the Union County Arts Center in Rahway this Sunday, Octo ber 11, when The Temptations take the stage. The
ArborChamberMusicSociety willpresentacham ber music concert at the First Baptist Church in Westfield on Sunday, October 18.
A number of house tours will be held this month includingthe“FourCenturies inaWeekend”spon sored by the Union County Division of Cultural & Heritage Affairs in Union County.
The Westfield, Scotch PlainsFanwood area has always been big supporters of the arts. Both local high schools have fine traditions of presenting the bestinhighschool productions.Also,Westfieldhas a number of noted groups including the Westfield Young Artists Cooperative (WYACT), the New Jersey Workshop for The Arts, and the Westfield Symphony Orchestra.
Houses of worship in the communities also of feredanarray ofmusicalperformancesthroughout the year.
Yes, indeed, the arts and humanities are well representedinthetowns thisnewspapercovers.We encourage all to take advantage of the opportunity to view hometown theater and musical perfor mances. They need our support.
By Congressman Robert D. Franks
NEWS FR NEWS FR NEWS NEWSFR NEWS FROM OM FROM OM WW OMWWASHINGT ASHINGT WASHINGT ASHINGTON ON ON ASHINGTON ON
Seventh Congressional District
Balanced Budget Called Win For Country and Taxpayers
For the first time since Neil Armstrong set foot on the moon and the Mets were the World Champions of baseball, the federal government has ended the fiscal year with a bud get surplus.
The first balanced budget in 30 years is a victory for our country and for every taxpayer who demanded fiscal responsibility from their repre sentatives in Washington.
Just four years ago, when Demo crats controlled both houses of Con gress, Washington was drowning in a sea of red ink. Every year,Washing ton went on a wild shopping spree — spending $200 billion more than the government collectedintaxrevenues. There seemed to be no end in sight to this reckless behavior.
Every budget projection showed Washington taking America deeper and deeper into debt. What a differ ence a Republican Congress has made.
Dollar by dollar, we began cutting the excesses of the federal govern Nearly 400 federal spending programs were eliminated. The fed eral bureaucracy was cut by more than 300,000 civilian workers.
Inch by inch, we dragged Presi dent Bill Clinton and the Democrats in Congress down the road toward a
budget,astrongereconomy and a brighter future.
On September 30, the federal gov ernment ended the fiscal year with a $63 billion surplus. Today, our economy is booming. Over nine mil lion new jobs have been created. Everywhere you turn, new homes and businesses are under construc tion. And the mortgage rate is at a 30year low.
This turnaround did not happen by accident. It is the direct result of actions taken by Congress to put Washington’s fiscal house in order. Our policies prompted the Federal Reserve board to drive down interest rates. That made it easier for families to buy a home or finance their kids’ college education. It also sent a pow erfulmessageto WallStreetandMain Street that America was finally headed in the right direction and it was time to invest in the future.
While all Americans can join in the celebration of reaching this mile stone, we face an even greater chal lenge ahead: making sure Washington’s actions never return to the days of deficit spending.
Bob Franks, seeking a fourth term representing the Seventh sional District, is the only New Jer
sey member to serve on the House of Representatives Budget Committee.
In Downtown Westfield, ‘Business is Booming’
I am concerned about the negative opinionsregarding theinfluxofchain stores in downtown Westfield.
I can clearly recall the fear of town residentsseveral yearsagowhenthey heard the rumors that chain stores, The Gap and Sam Goody, would be occupying the vacancies where ditional smalltown shops once
thrived. People were convinced that Westfield would lose its uniqueness and charm, and just “wouldn’t be Westfield any longer.” nately, years later, these apprehen
sions of accepting change still exist. To this day, residents don’t Congresnize all of the positive aspects ernization” has to offer our nity.
While some individuals complain about crowds and traffic, they ignorant to the fact that those
same shoppers keep Westfield alive. Before these mall stores opened their doors, Westfield had a collec tion of “For Lease” signs adorning the streets; our town was literally empty. The opportunity of going to the mall was more appealing than being limited to the few town stores.
Today, however, business is booming, the town is full of life, and Westfield is up with the times. The new exclusive shops make Westfield a classy attraction and actively compete with the wellto do Short Hills Mall — a situation other towns envy.
Many of the treasured small tiques remain; however, the crowds don’t pass the small shops by now. As for the “loss of town charm,” Westfieldis stillWestfield.Thepeople who make the community are still there, and that is what counts.
Gabriella Spinnato Westfield Westfield Resident Pays His Tribute
To Former Clark Lanes Bowling Alley Summit Resident Shares Admiration
For Downtown Scotch Plains Area Police, Fire and Public Works Depts.
Praised for Storm CleanUp, Action Reader Shocked By Effort To Discredit Mrs. Vernick
During the early stages of the Paula Jones case, vicious portrayals of Ms. Jones appeared in the press in an appar ent attempt to discredit her character and end the lawsuit.
This tactic backfired, the case pro gressed, President Bill Clinton was de posed and ultimately the world heard the President of the United States apologize for misleading us.
It is shocking to me that the Mayor of our town would be associated with a poll which apparently is committing charac ter assassination on one of candidates for the Mayor’s office, Mrs. Gail S. Vernick. To extend this mudslinging to her hus band suggests blatant sexism.
I have no doubt that Mrs. Vernick will overcome this attempt to discredit her.
Karen M. Muller Westfield TownshipCouncil
Is Unique on Position Regarding Plane Noise
The allRepublican Scotch Plains Township Council has a unique record on the bipartisan issue of aircraft noise.
In 1990, the allRepublican Scotch Plains Township Council commissioned a study of aircraft noise. At a cost of $25,000 to the taxpayers, the study con cluded the relief for Scotch Plains could only be achieved as part of a plan which offered relief for the region.
In 1993, then Mayor William F. McClintock and the allRepublican Scotch Plains Township Council stood alone in endorsing the Federal Adminis tration (FAA) Mitigation Plan. In 1998, Mayor Papen and the allRepublican Scotch Plains Township Council stood alone in endorsing the FAA’s 260de gree turn. These changes in air traffic routes, which moved jets from one com munity to another, were part of the FAA divideandconquer strategy.
Numerous local and statewide elected officials, on a nonpartisan basis, have endorsed a sixmonth test of ocean rout ing, including Republican Congressman Bob Franks and Democratic Congres sional candidate and Fanwood Mayor Maryanne S. Connelly.
This current initiative to test ocean routine has been led by Republican Con gresswoman Marge Roukema. The prob lem of jet noise is not now and nearer has been a partisan issue.
Ira Bernstein Scotch Plains SelfServing Survey
Has Poisoned Our Political Process
Being a Westfield resident for many decades,Ialwaystook prideinthetown’s respect for high moral ground and truth in politics. Apparently, we just had our current Mayor caught with his hand in the cookie jar.
The damage of his selfserving survey containing inflammatory falsehoods has poisoned our political process.
If we are to attract qualified dedicated boucandidates like Gail Vernick for mayor,
we must reject negative campaigning that has no respect for truth. Fortunately, we have a highly educated body of voters who will ultimately separate fact from fiction and reject those who would use less than honorable means to their own ends.
Carol Victor Westfield
Mayor’s Telephone Poll Infuriates Westfielder
I was shocked and disappointed to learn that Mayor Thomas C. Jardim’s campaign had used a false and mislead ing poll in an attempt to discredit Repub lican opponent Councilwoman Gail S. Vernick.
Claiming to be a Washington polling firm and falsely implying, through their questions, that the other candidate has done something wrong says something about the ethical standards of those in volved.
While I am not bipartisan when it comes to this election, I believe that members of both parties should deplore this type of conduct.
is bad enough that our children are exposed to sleaze and lies from politiment. cians in Washington; I don’t want my children to see that here in Westfield. They deserve better than that.
Equally unforgivable is the Mayor’s attempts to justify the poll or to make excuses for it. The Mayor not only owes Mrs. Vernick and the residents of Westfieldanapology, butheshouldidenbalanced tify everyone involved in this disgraceful conduct and fire them from his cammain paign.
Lee E. Miller Westfield
I have bowled in Saturday morning since I moved to New Jersey six ago, and I currently bowl for Westfield High School.
I bowled at Clark Lanes for more than one third of my life. I love to bowl and Clark Lanes had a very special place in
heart. Every time I pass by the empty structure that used to be Clark Lanes, it hurts me to think it used to be my beloved bowling alley.
How could the residents of the Clark and Westfield area let this happen?
Every Saturday night, the house was packed with people waiting to bowl. The Lanesattracteda diversecrowdofbowlers ranging from teens to seniors.
Clark Lanes was a place that kept kids off the street and out of trouble. Clark
afforded seniors a place to cise and socialize. Clark Lanes was also the home of the Watchung Conference, where high school teams in the area competed against each other.
Now Clark Lanes will be turned into another fitness center and a drug store. Just what our community needs! Doesn’t our area have enough fitness centers and drug stores already? How is our community going to replace such a wonderful place for the young and
old? The closest bowling center in our area is now HyWay Bowl. HyWay is a great bowling alley but we have to take Route No. 22 from Westfield to get there, and it is right next to Hot 22.
It is too bad that a place where people can enjoy good clean fun in today’s sub urban market has to be replaced at all. I will sorely miss Clark Lanes and so will the community.
Daniel Rock Westfield
“An ill wind blows some good.” The exerperson
responsible for that quote per haps foresaw the incredible Labor Day storm that hit our area, and particularly Scotch Plains, rather hard.
Certainly the overwhelming destruc tion of trees, threeday power loss, and scattered damage to homes are nothing to smile about. However, this storm and its aftermath allowed residents of Scotch Plains to see the heroic efforts of our Police, Fire and Public Works Depart ments in action.
Within a very short period of time, a state of emergency was declared by the local government. The departments were mobilized, and took to the streets to ensure our safety and begin the arduous
cleanup task. The camaraderie of neigh bors looking out for each other was also a pleasure to see.
With all the devastation, the fact that there were no injuries reported is truly miraculous. For that, we thank heaven above, the leadership displayed by our local government, and the emergency services personnel who braved the ele ments on our behalf.
I encourage our local government offi cials to continue their plans to secure disaster cleanup funds from the state and federal governments, and keep us appraised of their efforts as the clean up continues.
Ethel W. Barth Scotch Plains
As a resident of Summit, I do get a trachance to visit downtown Scotch Plains,
as my daughter takes dance lessons at a local studio on Saturday afternoons.
During that hour, I have occasion to wander through the downtown area and visit the shops and restaurants. It is apIt parent that the community has made real Unfortustrides in making the business district
more attractive and “shopperfriendly.” The nicest thing of all is that I never recoghave a parking problem, and have never
seen a single parking meter. “modThe
variety of shops is improving and commuthe Farmer’s Market seems to be very
popular. The new Towne Centre signs and banners are a welcome addition. reI hope that Scotch Plains continues to
enhance its business area because it has certainly become a wonderful place for
an outoftowner like me to visit.
A Summit Resident XEROGRAPHY/
During the age of scientific disTele: covery in the 17th through 19th cenPOSTMASTER: turies, inventors consistently drew upon Greek and Roman word ele ments to create trademarks for their inventions. This custom of copying the classics to produce trade names continues in the 20th century. The copier industry, which practiced this kind of legal plagiarism, has created several household words including: xerography. mimeograph, and ThermoFax™.
On October 22, 1938, Chester Carlson produced the first xeroOnegraphic image in the kitchen of his Jackson Heights, New York apartArts ment. Twentyone years later (1959), the Haloid Company later named Xerox Corp. introduced the 914 copier. Xerography combines two Greek elements: xeros, meaning dry, and graphein, to write.
Mimeograph also mimicked the Greeks. The word for this earlier duplicator combines mimes, meanties ing imitator, and graphein. The term was so generally used to describe copiers of that period that it lost its exclusivetrademarkdesignation,and the courts reduced it to the status of a generic term for all copiers using a similar process.
Finally, ThermoFax™, another duplicator, was a product of the 3M laboratory in 1944, and the trade mark, this time, was a hybrid of the Greek word therme, heat and a shortAs ening of the Latin fac simile, to make similar.
It is ironic that the minters of trademarks for the copier industry reached back into the classic lan guages to provide identities for these new products. Copy cats!
As exhilarating as John Frankenheimer’s raucous action thriller, Ronin is, you know not to take itseriouslyfora singlemoment.Notfor one iotaofananosecond doyoubringto heart this rockem, sockem display of international derringdo and intrigue.
Evenwhenat seat’sedge,bitingnails, andlookingfor somethingtograbonto, enthralledviewers soonrealizethatthis snazzy exercise in cutthroat one upmanship is more fun house ride than doordie drama.
Thereisthis littlethingaboutobtain ing a mysterious metal box. But why concern yourself? While this renegade rompmaystealyour breathaway,ifyou stopandthinkabout it,youreallyaren’t investing very much emotion.
For alas, just like the answer you gave at the job interview when they asked for your one true fault, Ronin is just too perfect.
The legendary director, who has brought us such diverse classics as The Manchurian Candidate (1962) and
Bird Man of Alcatraz (1962), bliss fully, stylishly,andunashamedlyshows filmgoers how to hone a genre to per fection.
This means assembling a team of romanticallyroguishcharacters,breath taking photography in Paris and on the FrenchRiviera, thewildestchasescenes since The French Connection, and lots ofpicaresque dialogue.Whenonetough guy/ exsecret agent asks former CIA man Sam (Robert DeNiro) if he ever killed anyone, Sam relates: “I know I really hurt someone’s feelings once.”
And even though journeyman Frankenheimer usually holds the tongueincheek stuff in carefully me tered abeyance, you can’t help but breathe in the hint of glib that peppers the adventure.
The plot, you ask? Does it much matter, the film cleverly begs the ques tion, so long as it makes the bad guys and the good guys go at it full tilt? So, just for fun, they do toss in a bone of contention.
Per screenwriters J. D. Zeik and Ri chard Weisz, it’s an elusive metal case. But what’s in this box? Again, the script playfully asks, what’s the differ ence?
The Russians want it. The Irish want it. Gosh knows who else wants it. And they’re all willing to kill for it. Come to think about it, we never did find out if the black statuette in The Maltese Fal con (1941) had any real intrinsic value. Yet Greenstreet, Lorre and Astor were sure crawling all over each other to get it.
Bogart as Sam Spade summed it up succinctly, “It’s the stuff dreams are made of.”
Heading an unnamed group of national renegades hired to purloin the object in question and adding a nine touch to Ronin is sexy IRA operamy tive Deirdre (Natascha McElhone).
Her highpriced defectors include: a fine DeNiro as Sam, who incidentally reminds of Bogie; Frenchman Vincent (JeanReno) asSam’stresKiplingesque counterpart; sinister Stellan Skarsgard as a German technical wiz who ditched his KGB gig to go into business for himself (hey, can’t beat that Keogh plan); and Skipp Sudduth as your good old, unassuming, runofthemill merLanes cenary,Larry.
Repeatedly, they all ask Deirdre, “What’s in the box?” She assures them it’s none of their concern. Just get it.
This is the kind of movie where mot ley characters bide their time in thread bare apartments and swap banter, part for amusement, part to mark off their territory. It’s the kind of movie where someone suddenly yells, “Okay, let’s go,” and the tough get going.
All hell breaks loose at the drop of a hat. Guns start firing, spectacularly driven cars start flying, and the cops don’t show up until one of the warring sides has decimated the sneering foe and disappeared.
Andit’salsothe kindofmoviewhere, despite all the cynicism and useless slaughter, there’s time enough for the hero to find both friendship and ro mance without it seeming mawkish.
DeNiro and Reno form the best FrancoAmerican alliance since the doughboys had reason to sing “Made moiselle fromArmentieres.”Andwhen during a stakeout, Sam suddenly gath ers in Deirdre for a smooch to throw off the police, the IRA colleen’s reaction is uncharacteristically surprising.
But you wonder, does even Deirdre know what’s in the box? And if she did, would she at least tell Sam? Ah, but no sensebothering yourselfoverit.What’s the difference what’s in the box?
Exhibiting the sign of a true cinema craftsman, the famed director makes this actionpacked variation on a theme look easy. He adds bite to stereotypes, supplies nuance to cliché, and confi dently knows when to let an old saw stand.
But it isn’t Frankenheimer’s obvious skill that is so intoxicating. For there is a far more satisfying attribute at work here. Call it instinct or intuitiveness. It’s what really causes his awesome ballet of highstyle hooliganism to take wing.
But, say, what about that box? Is the director having a bit of sport with us, manipulating us? Will we ever find out what’s in the metal case? Should we have figured it out by now?
During a neatly contemplative break in the action, Michael Lonsdale lends a nice turn as a semiretired provocateur in the French countryside who offers asylum to a bushwhacked Sam and Vincent. The wizened host shows off the colorful Samurai figures he lov ingly models, and explains that a Ronin is a Japanese warrior shamed by the loss of his liege.
Hecontinuesthat, ratherthansignon with a new feudal master, the Ronin wander the countryside in search of mercenary adventure. It’s not clear if Sam catches the metaphor.
Perhaps he’s too preoccupied, won dering what’s in the box.
* * * * * Ronin, rated R, is a United Artists release directed by John Frankenheimer interand stars Robert DeNiro, Jean Reno, and
Natascha McElhone. Running time: 121 femiminutes.
A headline on a letter last week from E. Dennis Hardie, Chairman of the Scotch Plains Aircraft Noise Committee, Inc.,incorrectlyidentifiedhim as Chairman of the Scotch PlainsFanwood Citizens Against Aircraft Noise (SPHow FCAAN).
A caption on the front page of The Westfield Leader last week incorrectly identified art teacher KathyKellyasinstructleagues ing classes at Wilson Elemenyears tary School. She actually teaches at Franklin Elemen tary School.
Letters to the Editor