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June, 2003

Inside This Edition: La Campagna in Morristown, NJ; New Jersey Meadowlands Racetrack in Secaucus, NJ; Movie Review - WALL STREET; River Street in Hoboken, NJ, and Feature - Jersey Shore - Something For Everyone Down The Shore


Jersey Food - June, 2003

Springtime is a perfect time to explore some of the many interesting towns in New Jersey.  Historic Morristown in Morris County is right up there at the top of the list.  Rich in history and culture, it is also home to many fine restaurants.  One of our all- time favorites is La Campagna on Elm Street.  Its nondescript facade doesn't give you any indication of the relaxed, peaceful feeling that you experience once you enter the door.

Our latest visit was mid-week and at the dinner hour.  For a restaurant to be filled to capacity on a Wednesday evening, you can be reasonably certain that the food is well above average, and indeed it is.

As La Campagna does not have a liquor license, if you are so inclined, you might consider bringing a bottle or two of your favorite wine.  We did, and enjoyed it as we nibbled on the complimentary bruschetta.  Our appetizers were well-prepared and our group was especially pleased with the fried calamari.  It was very fresh and perfectly cooked.

The vast menu might make it difficult to choose an entree - it certainly took us a while to settle on our choices, but we were pleased with the outcome.  Veal dishes and fish dishes arrived at our table in a prompt manner, beautifully presented, hot and delicious.  Jumbo shrimp served over saffron risotto was especially flavorful.  Desserts were good but not remarkable.

It is most unusual to find a restaurant that remains consistently good over a long period of time.  La Campagna has been in business for many years, and so far, has never disappointed us.  By all means, give it a try.

La Campagna - Morristown, New Jersey


Jersey Treasure - June, 2003


The Meadowlands Racetrack offers a nice peek into late 70's New Jersey and present day.  Born in 1976 as part of the massive meadowlands sports complex, this facility has been a Jersey mainstay for nearly 30 years.  A trip to the track in the early days was one of excitement and fantasy if you picked that winning combination.  The track drew many thousands in the old days as track-goers sprung out of the building into the evening air at post time to watch their favorite go for a win, place or show.  Standard gear in the old days for a regular fan at the track was a beer, a racing form and an image that they knew more than the next guy about racing and who would win.  Half the fun in the old days when the bucks ran out was watching some interesting characters as they applied their own unique system to try and win.  Fans would gather around a long-since-gone, giant tote board to read the latest odds and make their choice.  Everyone, and I mean everyone, was focused on "the race" in the early days and it was exciting.  In those days there were a few televisions around so those who couldn't get close enough outside could see.  I must admit that I was caught up in the excitement and enjoyment of the track for many years in the late 70's to early 80's enjoying the huge crowds and huge energy of collective dreams.

Today the giant odds tote-board is gone, replaced by a dizzying array of color monitors of all sizes.  Gone also is the singular vision of one race at a time, as television signals are beamed in from sports venues all over America.  The track looks more like an amusement park these days and it has definitely lost something, or has it?  Well it certainly has lost track-goers as attendance has gone way down.  Sure, fans don't crowd the fence anymore to catch a glimpse of the horses, but that's probably just a sign of the times.  All one has to do is look at all those different sports signals to see everyone isn't focused on the live event.  

The racetrack remains a Jersey treasure despite all the change and it is still making money for the State.  You can still see the old track beneath the surface of the new one if you look hard enough.  If you grab a seat on the second tier you can enjoy a bit of the old track, away from much distraction but still close to the action.

The Meadowlands Racetrack is state-owned and hopefully will remain that way as it brings in needed revenue to the State.  It's always nice to take an evening and visit the track and know that if you don't win at least some of the money reaches the State in profit.  It's even nicer to win!

Meadowlands Racetrack - East Rutherford, New Jersey


Movie Review - June, 2003

Video Rental Pick:

WALL STREET - Rated R - Wall Street starring Michael Douglas and Charlie Sheen offers a penetrating look into the world of high finance in the late 80's.  Man's morality is tested in this intense tale as Gordon Gekko reaches for the top and Bud Fox reaches for Gordon Gekko.  Bud goes after Gekko with all the enthusiasm of a business school graduate ready to stake his claim.  Bud learned much growing up except who he is and what he stands for.  The dream of any new broker is to "bag the big one" and Fox bags Gekko and ultimately himself as he is drawn into a high-stakes game called insider trading.  Actually, it was Gekko who bagged Bud to do his wet work for him.  Gekko the financial wizard, or rather lizard, sat back and pulled the strings to get richer and richer despite ethics or the law.

Bud finally realizes who he is, but too late, as the long arm of the law catches up with him.  WALL STREET is beginning to look dated with the old cars and late 80's boom deco, but the film will always remain a classic.  If you love good character dramas, this video is for you.


Jersey Clubs and Nightlife - June, 2003  

Walk into River Street Saloon on a Friday night and get ready to enjoy.  On this particular recent Friday the music was excellent and the drinks were cold.  River Street attracts a youthful 20-something crowd and the evening was anything but run-of-the-mill.  Fridays in Hoboken are great this time of year with a vibrant crowd and warm late spring temperatures.  Step into River Street and things will heat up even more with a hip crowd in the main bar nearest the entrance.  The sounds and sound system are really good in this part of the club and this night was no exception.

Step into the back of the club and the atmosphere becomes more of club and less of a hip neighborhood bar.  This mix of neighborhood bar and trendy club is awesome.  River Street is quite trendy in the rear portion with multi levels and a nice light system.  Heading out to River Street on a Friday night is refreshing, fun and classic New Jersey.

River Street Saloon - Hoboken, New Jersey 


Jersey Feature - June, 2003

Jersey Shore - Something For Everyone "Down The Shore"

Memorial Day usually ushers in the beginning of playtime down at the Jersey Shore.  This year ushered in a ton of rain instead of a ton of fun.  Like all things in New Jersey the only constant is change, and things will be heating up at the shore in no time at all.  No matter if you have been in Jersey all of your life or if you just moved here, the shore is big on memories and delivers year after year.

The greatest thing about New Jersey is our diversity and the shore reflects that diversity masterfully in our many shore destinations.  One of my fondest memories about the shore was and is my ability to tailor a trip down the shore depending on mood and desired type of entertainment.  The diversity of our people and things to do down the shore can't be overstated because it's simply not found anywhere else in America.

Not much is free in Jersey anymore, but hey, you can still get on the beach in Atlantic City for free.  If you blow your bank in Atlantic City you don't have to blow your tan too.  Jersey is big on shore entertainment and although some of the ghosts of the late 70's through early 80's, like Montego Bay in Belmar, are long since gone, there are plenty of oldies still around.  The Osprey is still alive in Manasquan as is Leggetts for the 21 and over crowd.  Many of us have memories of these old Jersey names.  Tradewinds is a nice place to hang out in the afternoon when you are done looking for the fake shore house of New Jersey's most famous fake guy, Tony Soprano.

There is nothing fake about great memories of the Jersey Shore from fishing up at Barnegat Light to an afternoon swim with friends down at Island Beach State Park to a beach house with family.  This summer is shaping up to be as memorable as always with something for everyone "down the shore."

Jersey Shore - Something For Everyone "Down The Shore"    written by Jerry Butler


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