Random Lunch Links: Bruce, Checkers & JOBS

There’s plenty to watch for in the news this week, as U.S. House Republicans happily push for a possible government shut-down just to score political points on Obamacare (trying for the 42d time to overturn the Affordable Care Act), while here in North Carolina Aldona Wos and the Department of Health and Human Services are likewise veering towards their own self-induced implosion.

(Keep following Policy Watch’s Sarah Ovaska, who first broke the story of outrageous salaries in the offing at DHHS and who continues to uncover more instances of political appointees lining their pockets.)

Meanwhile, for Monday, here’s some news worth noting that likely won’t be gracing Page One.

Starting today, small start-ups in the Triangle area (and elsewhere) can start crowdfunding, a la Kickstarter and Indiegogo,  without having to register shares for public trading, thanks to the “Jumpstart Our Business Start-ups Act,” or JOBS Act, enacted in 2012. Unlike Kickstarter and other crowdfunding sites though, which seek donations only, start-ups will be looking for investors, a difference that has critics warning of “a cascade of abuses by [start-ups] luring investors to what may be risky and untenable business ventures,” as this story in today’s New York Times reports.

For political history buffs, today marks the 61st anniversary of Richard Nixon’s “Checkers” speech, in which he tried to persuade the public that he should remain on the Republican ticket, denied allegations that he dipped into a political slush fund and said that no matter what happened to him, he would keep the gift of a black and white dog his daughters had named Checkers.

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And today marks the birthdays of John Coltrane (born in Hamlet, N.C.), Ray Charles and, last but most definitely not least, Bruce Springsteen, who turns 64 today.

I grew up two blocks from the beach and a just few more from Asbury Park, N.J., and was only an eighth-grader when our music teacher introduced us to an up-and-coming local artist who had just released his first album. Too young to have heard him play at his favorite venue, The Stone Pony, we were thrilled simply by the album cover, “Greetings from Asbury Park.” Little did we know then where it would all lead.

Bruce Springsteen came to define what it meant to be from the Jersey Shore, not only because he came of age where we lived and wrote about places we knew but also because he never really left the shore community.

It was not uncommon over the years to pass him in the street, park next to him at the gym, see him browsing through albums at Jack’s Music Shoppe in Red Bank.

And he loved to show up unannounced at small shore music venues to play a set with other musicians – well-known or just starting out.

The Count Basie Theater in Red Bank was one of those venues, the one Bruce often turned to when offering up his music for a local cause.

Needed him for a holiday fundraiser for struggling families in the area? Bruce showed up. He may not have known the families personally, but he knew about where they lived and what that meant.

Here he is, Christmas 2008 at Count Basie, doing what he’d done so many holidays before, this time with another shore musician, Jon Bon Jovi.

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He’d do that again during the years that followed.

And after 9/11, when shore communities lost so many residents. He did know some of them personally, as most of us did.

And again, after Hurricane Sandy.

So Happy Birthday Bruce, and thank you (not Snooki) for defining the “Jersey Shore.” Nothing like it in the whole wide world . . . .

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