By VICTOR E. SASSON
Marty Gottlieb, editor of The Record, couldn't find a real transportation tragedy for today's front page.
So, he took a Road Warrior column about a "near-tragedy," and grabbed the center of Page 1 for the highly exaggerated, error-filled account of a train-truck collision from nearly a year ago (A-1).
If you need a good laugh, check out some of the dramatic language Staff Writer John Cichowski uses to make this accident sound as if the sky fell that day (A-1 and A-6).
Trains kill people
On Oct. 14, NJ.com reported more than two dozen pedestrians had been killed in 2013 on tracks shared by NJ Transit and Amtrak, setting a pace that could make this year the state's deadliest on the rails in decades.
"Most" were suicides, the Web site reported.
That raises a question Gottlieb and Deputy Assignment Editor Dan Sforza would surely refuse to answer.
Why isn't Cichowski writing about safety improvements at stations or the deployment of transit cops to prevent more pedestrian tragedies?
The answer is that NJ Transit has consistently kept the media's focus off of the transit agency's responsibility -- until recently blaming the victims and labeling pedestrians who walked on the tracks as "trespassers."
There is no excuse for unprotected track, such as the long stretch down the middle of Railroad Avenue, between Essex and Passaic streets in Hackensack, in a mixed residential-industrial neighborhood lined with homes.
A fence could have prevented a 12-year-old student from walking on the tracks and being killed by a train in 2010 -- in a city that doesn't have school busing.
I'm no big fan of Hollywood movies or of Stephen Whitty, the so-called film critic at The Star-Ledger, whose reviews fill The Record's Better Living tabloid of Fridays.
This is a colossal waste of space, but today a headline on BL-2 caught my attention, one apparently written by a moron on the copy desk.
The sub-headline says the film is about Dickens' fling with "a younger actress."
Younger than whom? Ellen Ternan, a teenage actress, is the only one mentioned in the review.
In the Better Living centerfold, Staff Writer Elisa Ung tortures readers with a tedious account of bad service and sloppy food preparation at Istanbul Cafe & Grill in Fair Lawn (BL-14).
At least one of the servers sounds as if she has gone insane from trying to live on the federal minimum wage for tipped workers -- $2.13 an hour, which hasn't increased in more than 20 years.
This is another full-length review of a mediocre, forgettable restaurant The Record insists on running under the theory that if the paper pays for the insatiable Ung and a friend to have two or three meals, then readers be damned.