Sunday, December 22, 2013

We're tired of the annual tears, anguish and bathos

Passaic Street and Maywood Avenue in Maywood. Passaic, an antiquated, heavily traveled, two-lane street, was clogged on Saturday with drivers heading for Westfield Garden State Plaza, the Paramus mall invaded by a gunman on Nov. 4. Today, The Record carries a wire-service story with the first serious discussion since then of security at shopping centers.


Twenty-five years after the bombing of Pan Am 103, readers still have to bear the burden of knowing 38 of the 270 victims were from New Jersey.

That's all the Woodland Park daily and Mike Kelly, one of its tired columnists, needs to unleash thousands of meaningless words marking the passing of another year since the terrorist act on Dec. 21, 1988 (A-1).

The Record loves anniversaries, even though most of them have little meaning for most readers, because they fill space the editors couldn't fill with real news.

How does Kelly begin today's column?

"They came to the stone memorial like old soldiers returning to the battlefield.

"Only these were not soldiers at all."

OK. If they aren't "soldiers," why even use that word?

The reason is simple: After writing columns for more than 20 years, words fail this untalented hack. 

Mall execution

Along with a front-page story on the arrest of 4 in the fatal carjacking at an upscale mall in Millburn last Sunday, The Record runs its first serious discussion of shopping center security (A-4).

North Jersey shoppers learn they are left out in the cold: 

The Mall of America in far-off Minnesota "touts on its website a security force of more than 100 officers."

However, in New Jersey, the owners of Westfield Garden State Plaza in Paramus and the Mall at Short Hills refuse to discuss security.

Check out the long correction on A-2 today and ask yourself why the editors even ran it. Isn't PSE&G the major utility in the state?

Bridge to boredom

There may be relatively few words about mall security, but The Record continues to give unprecedented coverage to politically inspired traffic delays on the George Washington Bridge (L-1 and O-1).

It's as if traffic isn't a nightmare nearly every day, at the Hudson River crossings as well as on major highways, including Route 80.

One car, one driver

Road Warrior John Cichowski today indulges another one of those morons who ignore mass transit and drive to and from Manhattan alone.

One of his readers, Larry Finch of Maywood, complains about a purported "five hours" it took his wife to get home from Manhattan on Tuesday because of emergency construction on the upper level of the GWB (L-1).

Hey, Larry, what does your wife have against Martha Washington, the lower level?

Crash news

A fatal crash on Route 80 in Totowa on Saturday morning caused another traffic nightmare, killing the driver of a 17-year-old Toyota (L-1 and L-3).

As usual, there isn't a single clue in the story about whether speed was a factor. 

The driver, Cesar Castello III, 31, of Wayne was "ejected" and run over by another car. 

Was he wearing a seat belt? The editors included the name of a state trooper and expect readers to call him to get the answer.

Who was Castello? A husband or father or just someone who couldn't afford a new car?

Mixed messages

Your Money's Worth Columnist Kevin DeMarrais lists healthy eating as one of the big issues of 2013 (B-1).

But he continues to omit organic and other naturally raised or grown food in his monthly North Jersey Marketplace Survey of supermarket prices (B-2).

Let them eat cake

The Record has some of the wealthiest newspaper readers in the nation, so why is Staff Writer Elisa Ung reporting on a celebrity chef's "rules for flavorful cooking on a budget" (BL-1).

Thanks, but no thanks. Who wants to eat the "cheapest chicken parts" -- likely pumped up with harmful animal antibiotics -- from the A&P?

I'm sure Chef David Burke doesn't eat them or serve them in his restaurant.

High entree prices

Wouldn't we rather see Burke and other restaurant owners lower their ridiculously high entree prices?

On Friday, Ung gave a rave review to Chakra in Paramus, despite a greasy schnitzel ($29) she called "a depressing ripoff," and a "tough" filet mignon ($38).

Doesn't the paper's chief restaurant reviewer ever send back food? And what did she spend on three visits to Chakra, $400 or more?

She touts the "thoughtful" wine-by-the-glass list, but doesn't give prices, which would likely shock readers, even well-heeled ones.

What's on top?

The Better Living cover on Friday was filled with a large photo of Chakra's crispy trout topped with cauliflower puree and Marcona almonds, but on BL-18, Ung said her fish was served on top of the puree.

Kelly's surprise

Just when I have written off Kelly as having no redeeming social value, he surprises me with a second column today on the Opinion front.

Read that first paragraph for a clear statement of what the column is about and a rare opinion from a columnist who expresses few of them (O-1):

"Chris Christie wants to be a bridge builder who can unite the Republican Party and capture the White House.

"Funny how he can't seem to find his way across the mess at the George Washington Bridge."

A rare good job by Kelly. 

But will he please ask Production Editor Liz Houlton to run an updated column photo of him and get rid of the one with his signature shit-eating grin.


  1. Hey. Cesar Castello was my cousin. He had the most amazing parents, brother, niece, nephew, and a large tight knit group of relatives. He had a ton of friends as well. He was warm hearted and always wanted to see people happy. He did everything in his power to put a smile on someone else's face. We still don't know if he was speeding or not. We do know that he was not under the influence. And yes, at the moment, he was trying to save up money. He had returned not too long ago from a move to California where he was trying to live out his dreams. He came back because the doors were not opening for him and he missed his family.

    1. Thank you for adding the human dimension to the story about Cesar Castello.

      The Record has published numerous fatal accident accounts like the one on your cousin. Editors and reporters are numb to all the pain family members feel when a loved one dies.

  2. I appreciate your article, Mr. Sasson. I am Cesar's mother and I, like you, have many questions unanswered about this tragic accident. What kind of car do you drive? Should I really try to understand you based on that make, model or year? What was the real motive of your article? I welcome the opportunity to be enlightened and gain some of your knowledge. May you have a healthy and prosperous 2014 along with your loved ones. I will be happy to answer any of the questions you have concerning my sons personal character. Please feel free to access for a peek as to how some people felt about him. His father and I wrote a tribute as well. Please forgive any grammatical errors. We were, and still are, overcome with grief. I look forward to your critique.

    Respectfully submitted (no hard feelings) Nancy & Ferdinand

    1. I was trying to say the newspaper dehumanizes accident victims by not bothering to get personal information about them , inviting speculation.

      Your son deserved some effort on the part of the reporter and editors to tell readers a little about him.

    2. Thank you Mr. Sasson. I will follow EYE ON THE RECORD periodically and wish you well.

      Nancy & Ferdinand

    3. Thank you, and I am sorry for your loss.

  3. Here is something from the funeral home's Web site:

    Cesar A. Castello, III (31) of Wayne, passed away on Saturday, December 21st, 2013. Born in Bronx, NY to Cesar Castello, II and Nancy Ortiz. He was an inventory clerk for United Supply Corp. in Saddle Brook."


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