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Category: Opinion & Reader Forum

Thoughts & Views: A story at any cost? No thanks

There is one aspect to a job in journalism that I have never quite understood, and with which I have never been comfortable.

I’m talking about the ghoulish pursuit of a) crime victims, b) accident victims, c) the families of crime victims or accident victims, and the worst d) the families of murder victims — done with the ignoble desire to get a quote. Read more »


Last week’s story about neighbors up in arms about a development proposal that would replace a vacant Belgrove Drive dental office with a two-family home incorrectly reported that the dentist who occupied that office had passed away. Dr. Charles Bridges is alive. We regret the error.

Thoughts & Views

‘Haunted by these numbers’

Editor’s note: Last Friday, March 29, marked 40 years since American combat troops were withdrawn from Vietnam. A friend who is a Marine veteran and a former Saigon war correspondent emailed me what appears below. I thought it would be an appropriate commemoration, and I have tried to find out who wrote it — but to no avail. I asked my friend, and his response was, “It has been forwarded so many times that I doubt you could find the origin.”

Therefore, I cannot give the writer credit, nor can I vouch for the accuracy of all the data, but I truly doubt anyone would make it up.

– Karen Zautyk Read more »


From the desk of Mayor Massa

North Arlington Mayor Peter Massa

North Arlington Mayor Peter Massa

To the Editor:

Last week, the voters of North Arlington approved the expenditure of $3.3 million in repairs for the Rip Collins Memorial Field located on River Road. Twenty-five percent of the electorate agreed to support the referendum that will result in the construction of a new playing field, running track, bleachers, lockers and other items.

As mayor, I rather questioned the practicality of renovating a facility that has flooded on numerous occasions including the past two recent hurricanes that ravaged not only North Arlington, but many parts of New Jersey. As mayor, I have a fiduciary responsibility to question a proposal that in my view did not address the central issue of flooding as well as parking for that specific site plan. Read more »

Thoughts & Views

What’s cooking? In my kitchen, not much

Elsewhere in this week’s issue of The Observer, you will find a story I did on a gourmet dinner served to Kearny senior citizens by Kearny High School culinary students.

It was a lovely event, but I was not completely at ease. Gourmet food frightens me. And I am intimidated by the people who can cook it.

I cannot cook at all. I do not want to learn. I have survived this long on take-out and eating out and microwave tasties and I am not about to change. Read more »


In last week’s issue, for Franklin School Honors, the names of two students were omitted: Jason Marshall & Crystelle Martins, Grade 5

Thoughts and Views

Pontiff can help shape discourse of world
Pope Francis

Pope Francis

So there’s a new head man sitting in the Vatican.

Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, of Argentina, has been elected to the papacy.

Pope Francis is the first pontiff from the Western Hemisphere to be selected to run the Catholic Church in the centuries that the Church has been thriving around the globe.

In part, picking the Argentinian signals a recognition of the significant growth of the Church in Latin American countries. Read more »


• Last week’s story on Family Food Distributors in Kearny contained a photo that misidentified one of the visitors to the facility. The person mistakenly listed as Deborah Smith should have been identified as Elizabeth J. Mackay, senior policy advisor for the New Jersey Business Action Center. (Deborah Smarth also attended as a representative of N.J. Small Business Development Centers.) The Observer regrets the error.

• A headline in last week’s story about “Once on This Island” being performed by the Kearny High School (KHS) players gave the wrong location for the upcoming shows. They can be seen in the KHS auditorium. The Observer regrets the error.

We’ve Got Mail

Let’s get to that garden!

To the Editor:

We are happy to hear about the Machs starting the community gardening project. As featured in an article (Feb. 27) by Ron Leir, it was written that “…the team would look to the town to finance acquisition of garden supplies …”

We believe that yes, citizens can look to the government for assistance. We also believe that those of us who can share a little something for a worthy cause, be it our time, talent or treasure, should do our part.

Rico and Merle Dolot, Kearny

Thoughts & Views

Accentuate the negative



Definition of pes-s-mism (ps-mzm) n.: A tendency to stress the negative or unfavorable or to take the gloomiest possible view.

Quote about pessimism vs. optimism: “We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.” –Oscar Wilde

Another quote about pessimism vs. optimism: “Yeah, and while you’re looking at the stars, someone will step on your face.” — Me I am a born pessimist. Every once in awhile I get into the power-of-positive-thinking mode, but it doesn’t last long. Not that I expect it to.

An anecdote: Not long ago, I was having some vision problems. I made the mistake of Googling the symptoms, and the results led me to web pages dealing with a debilitating disease.

I had not yet seen the ophthamologist, but I told a friend that I now assumed I had this affliction.

“Karen,” she said, fed up with decades of my negativity, “do me a favor and try, for just one year and just with me, to have a positive attitude. You can do that.”

And I said, “Okay, how about this? I am positive I have a debilitating disease.”

And she said: “Bitch.”

By the way, it turns out I am not disease-afflicted. Not that you care.

All of the above came to mind this week when I read a news story out of Germany. Psychological researchers there have released the results of a 10-year study of 40,000 people between the ages of 18 and 96 and the subjects’ attitudes toward life.

As reported in the Los Angeles Times, the study “suggests that people who are overly optimistic about their future actually faced greater risk of disability or death within 10 years than did those pessimists who expected their future to be worse.”

The researchers also “hypothesized that people who were gloomy about their future may be more careful about their actions than people who anticipated a rosy future: ‘Perceiving a dark future may foster positive evaluations of the actual self and may contribute to taking improved precautions.’”

Such as, when you’re out walking, looking at the ground, lest you trip. Or looking over your shoulder. Anywhere but at the stars. Muggers hide in dark alleys waiting for the stargazers to stroll by.

In any case, if the new study is correct, there appears to be a bright side to pessimism. I’m going to have trouble dealing with that.

– Karen Zautyk