The needler in the haystack.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Plainfield's blogs: An appreciation

Workers on City Hall's cupola.
Hoping to deflect lightning -- or attract it?

Since Plainfield
is mostly ignored by the media unless there is a shooting or a fire, I thought it important to follow up yesterday's post about the CLIPS blogroll with an appreciation of the Queen City's bloggers and the themes about which they write.

Bernice at Plaintalker II:

The 'dean' of Plainfield bloggers, Bernice Paglia has been posting almost daily (often more than one post at a time) since June 2005. She regularly follows City Council, the land use boards (Planning and Zoning) and the PMUA, with a sprinkling of other interests from time to time, including her garden and its preying mantises as well as her shopping exploits.

Bernice brings to her writing the focus and skills of an experienced journalist -- she was a longtime beat reporter for the Courier News and before that worked at Jan and Henry Johnson's weekly Plainfield Today newspaper (no connection to this blog), once published on North Avenue.

Scrupulous, thorough and even-handed, Bernice upholds the very best in journalistic traditions. You will not be well-informed about Plainfield issues and prospects if you are not reading her blog every day. (And it's typo-free.)

Olddoc at Doc's Potpourri:

Lifelong Plainfield resident, raised in the West End, Harold C. Yood, MD (affectionately known by his handle 'Olddoc'), is a retired physician who had a private practice in Plainfield and a long career at Muhlenberg Hospital.

For decades, he has been a regular presence at City Council meetings, where he often -- and still today -- raises issues that make elected officials squirm.

A raconteur, I nudged him years ago to write down some of his WWII stories, which he eventually did by starting a blog. But, true to his 'good government' inclinations, it wasn't long before his 'potpourri' blog began to take on his themes of good government, health care policy and his trove of interesting knowledge and lore (who else knows as much about asphalt paving as Olddoc? or has such an interesting collection of JAMA covers? or can relish decades of Texas Weiners?).

He is also the true geek among Plainfield's bloggers. He has converted many 35mm slides to stunning digital photographs (if you think that's easy, you should give it a try), upgraded all sorts of electronic equipment as the latest improvements become available and even uses a speech-to-text program on occasion.

Though mobility issues have crimped his style somewhat, you will not want to miss his point of view on life and happenings in Oz (as he calls Plainfield) and the world beyond.

Oh, and did I mention UVA basketball?

Jackie at The (TV) Show Must Go On...:

Jackie Schnoop is an award-winning amateur photographer living in Plainfield who regularly rides the Raritan Valley Line to and from work.

Her blog is followed by hundreds who share her enthusiasm for watching certain perennial TV favorites (especially Survivor and The Amazing Race)

While she is at it she regularly comments on Plainfield sights and situations. Her Sunday 'week in review' post keeps us up to date on her photographic excursions, sometimes startling animal poses and the goings-on of her companion Vincent.

Back when David Connolly was Plainfield's rental property kingpin (before taking a well-deserved trip to the slammer), Jackie shared some of the suffering of being one of his tenants. Jackie has also a sometime blog of her photos (see here).

David at Plainfieldview:

With more energy than his elder blogging colleagues, David Rutherford manages to have a career in New York as an architect, serve the community as an elected Board of Ed member, travel to interesting locales and stay in touch with the pulse of Plainfield's young people -- you know, the generation that will be running the Queen City in a decade or so.

Alone among the bloggers, David makes consistent and compelling use of his smartphone to make videos of City Council and other happenings of interest around town.

David also finds the time -- and energy -- to participate in the mass movements of our day, from anti-violence rallies in Newark and New York City to the Million Person March in Washington, DC.

Make it a habit to check in on him regularly.

Dottie Gutenkauf at Dottie G Sez:

Dottie is an old-time rabble-rouser and union activist (American Federation of Teachers) whom I met shortly after moving to Plainfield in the 1980s. She is also perhaps Plainfield's only current bona fide, certified Democratic Socialist.

Once Plainfield began to elect its Board of Ed members in the late 1980s, I worked with Dottie and others to bring nonpartisan slates of forward-looking and younger candidates to the Board of Ed. (Our victors included Cory Storch, Roni Taylor, Lynne Richard, Rick Smiley, Randy Bullock, and Wolde Woubneh -- Plainfield's once and only Ethiopian-American BOE  member.)

When the struggle over Muhlenberg Hospital's fate moved to center stage, Dottie (along with Nancy Piwowar and others), helped rally the community to protest and prevent -- unsuccessfully-- the hospital's closing by its then-parent Solaris Health System.

Beginning her blog in 2008, Dottie has used it as a sounding board for community issues -- including Muhlenberg and Plainfield Democratic politics -- as well as her own poetry (which you should read).

A regular presence at Council meetings with her late husband Joe, Dottie celebrated her 82nd birthday this past week. Health issues have curtailed her presence at meetings and her blogging, but she is still the same old Dottie when you catch her on the phone.

Though she has switched to American Spirit cigarettes, which have no additives or chemicals, and which come in the brightest yellow package.

Noel at Plainfield Area Local Sports:

I met Noel through his brother Michael. Both have an intense interest in Plainfield's sports scene, including youth sports and scholastic teams (Go Cardinals!).

Noel had been writing some sports coverage for Augustine Dashiell's Plainfield Sports News and struck out on his own with PALS in 2014 when Augustine had to give up the blog because of the press of work.

Besides covering high school teams in the Plainfield area, Noel does in-depth interviews -- as with Plainfield High's new head basketball coach Milt Gaylord, who he spoke with last week.

If you are passionate about our young people's sports scene, you should be a regular reader.

Plainfield Latino:

The most recently begun blog is Plainfield Latino. Though "independent" candidate Norman Ortega seems to have begun the blog on his own, he was quickly joined by a coterie of a few other writers.

The blog focuses on issues its writers think are of interest to Plainfield's Latino community. During the election season, it became a sort of unofficial campaign blog for Ortega's failed run for the Wards 1/4 at-large Council seat.

Stridently anti-Mapp in tone, often with scant attention to the facts, I included the blog on the CLIPS blogroll after Mr. Ortega agreed that all posts would be signed with an author's name (honored somewhat in the breach).

Even though I believe there are more Latino opinions on Plainfield matters than are expressed here, its writers have a right to hold and present their views.

I will take up the remaining blogs -- by elected officials -- in a separate post.

These folks all labor (believe me, writing IS work!) to keep us posted on Plainfield's pulse. It is an invaluable service, for which they get little thanks. Visit their blogs -- and thank them, if you've a mind to.

Oh yes, Plainfield Today? Impertinent and snarky in nearly 7,500 posts since 2005.

  -- Dan Damon [follow]

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