THIS week, Chris Gillin-Schwartz sent us a letter about a recent event, with a note that the Cape May community might be interested in this. We read it, and we have to say, we sympathize with Chris on this one. Here’s what he had to say:
Two weeks ago during the region’s deep freeze, a chilling crime was committed in Cape May Point.
At approximately 4pm EST, a handful of young men parked and gathered next to the lake in the shadow of the Cape May lighthouse. These young men pulled large wooden sticks from their cars and strapped razor-sharp blades to their feet. They proceeded to step on the lake (which was frozen from three days of extreme cold) and began tossing a small black disk around between them. These delinquents were even laughing and cheering as they cut across the frozen lake. They seemed to really be enjoying themselves.
As you can imagine, it was horrifying.
Luckily, a concerned citizen had the courage to stand on the edge of the lake and order these convicts off the lake. Amazingly, the order, which was made without any demonstration of actual authority or citing a specific violation, was ignored by the young men as they continued to “laugh” and “play,” and do other unspeakable things.
The worst part is this person was the only individual there who seemed to care about law and order. Other passersby were neutral or even seemed to encourage the behavior. Some people slowed their cars as they drove by, got out to take photographs, or even cheered the men on saying horrible things like “Man, I wish I had my skates in my truck,” and “GOAL!!!”
Finally, the police and park ranger were called to remove the boys from the lake. The boys were told they were trespassing. If they had cared to examine the Cape May Point State Park’s website they would have seen the clear and unambiguous language that the park is open from “dawn to dusk.” Somewhere hidden beyond the grey clouds and flurries of snow, the sun was setting on the horizon. The “game” was over. Justice was served.
Now, if there is one thing I enjoy, it is the steadfast enforcement of malum prohibitum laws. These are laws that prohibit things, not because they are inherently evil (like murder, theft, assault), but because the state says so (speed limit, no-skateboarding signs, parking tickets). It takes a special kind of person with zeal and determination to deputize themselves and enforce these types of laws. Every citizen should understand their civic duty to step up and say things like, “Hey, you can’t park there,” and “Hey, you can’t play here.” No law is too small or non-existent to be worthy of complaining and involving the police. Actual incidents of crime like assault and theft should take a back seat to things like parking for five minutes at the sea wall with flashers on to “check the waves.”
If you are someone who nods in agreement when he reads Thomas Paine and believes the government’s involvement in our daily lives should be as limited as possible, the idea of making yourself an arm of the state may not sit well. I admit it is not for everyone. It is a calling.
The reason I wrote this is to let that person know they were not alone. They were not the only person thinking something completely abusive and unnecessary happened on that lake two weeks ago. — Chris Gillin-Schwartz
LOCAL guitar legend Geno White was 12 when he met Jimi Hendrix. He says “met,” even though they merely locked eyes, because the connection was so intense. “You know that moment right before you’re about to die?” he asked us. “How they say you’re whole life flashes before your eyes? This was similar. Time froze. Only, in that instant, I saw my future.” In front of the rotating stage where Hendrix played — at the Spectrum in Philadelphia — Geno snapped a photo with his Kodak Instamatic, and knew that he would be a musician for the rest of his life. He gave up skateboarding and surfing and playing basketball. He devoted, to the dismay of his parents, all of his free time to playing. “The guitar is magical,” he said. “It kept me out of the gutter.”
Out of the gutter, and on to such famous stages as the Knitting Factory in New York City and the Metro in Washington, where Geno showcased his instrumental, rock/blues fusion. And on to a stage in Quebec City, where Geno played for a crowd of 4,000 as a substitute for Mick Jones of the Rolling Stones during a Gong-revisit show.
His guitar prowess has taken Geno around the world — places like Japan, Holland, Germany, Italy — and oftentimes with Pat Martino, famous jazz guitarist and dear friend who relied on Geno for 12 years as an assistant/ roadie/guitar tech after he suffered a brain aneurysm in 1980. It got him signed with two record labels — Lolo and Clearear — through which he’s put out eight CDs. In 2009, it got him on the shortlist of contenders — top 50 of 6,000 entrants — for the prize of recording a Hendrix tribute album with Grammy Award-winning band Santana.
And now, it might just land him on stage at Madison Square Garden, opening for Eric Clapton this spring.
To find out how, we met up with Geno in the house he rents on Jefferson Street. It was a mix of your typical Victorian home decor (a framed Monarch butterfly, a picture of the Cape May lighthouse, a floral print couch), and a rock and roller vibe — in the living room, we sat across from a Fender Stradocaster, amplifiers, and a poster of Jeff Beck.
Martha, Geno’s Rat Terrier, trotted over to say hello, despite a severe allergic reaction that had her little head in a cone. “I don’t think people realize how important it is to care for animals; they’re smarter than we are,” Geno said. As he spoke, he tugged on the Sarasvati — Hindu goddess of art and music — medallion he wore around his neck, next to a skull-imprinted guitar pick. “The skull is a little bit of Keith Richards,” he told us. “An indication that I’ll be playing to the end of my life.”
But before that, he’d really like to perform at the world’s most famous venue.
I’ve never asked for anything,” he said. “But I am campaigning now. I need votes.” Geno explained that he’s in the 2013 Play Crossroads Contest, meaning he’s competing to perform at Madison Square Garden in April, as part of Eric Clapton’s Crossroads Guitar Festival. If he succeeds, he’ll join the ranks of BB King, Buddy Guy, John Mayer, Sheryl Crow, ZZ Top, Vince Gill, and so many guitar greats.
“The contest is open to anyone who’s not signed to a major label, like Sony or Warner Brothers,” Geno said. “Anyone just below that. So I’m up against talent like Melissa Etheridge’s guitar player Philip Sayce, all the way down to 12-year-old kids.” The 100 contestants with the most votes will be put before a panel of judges comprised of “shredders” like Sheryl Crow’s guitarist Peter Stroud. They’ll be charged with narrowing it down to one.
So why should you vote for Geno?
“Heck, what guitar player doesn’t want to open for Eric Clapton at Madison Square Garden?” he asked us. “But even more than that, I want the opportunity to represent Cape May. If I took this, I can offer a world-class delivery, and I can represent our town. People will be able to say, “Yo, that’s Geno, man!’”
A self-described homeboy, Geno was born and bred here, and he feels proud to be able to teach guitar lessons to fellow Cape May lovers, and to perform at local venues. “I love it all,” he said. “One of my fondest memories is watching people dancing on the tables at a Martini Beach show. No matter where I go on the road, I always love coming home to Cape May.”
To vote for, Geno — and you should… it’s so easy! — log onto genowhite.com, click on the schedule tab, and scroll down a bit until you see a mini poster for Geno’s Crossroads page. Click on that, and again where you see “support this artist,” and you’re done. (Click more than once, and you’ll improve his “buzz rating.”)
Good luck, Geno!
Course Of Action
HAVE you heard of frisbee golf? The game requires throwing plastic discs into metal cages in as few throws as possible. If you’ve been to the Cape May County Zoo, you’ve seen the course that weaves through the park there. Since it’s only nine holes — as opposed to a regulation 18 — and since this spot can get a wee bit (okay, a great deal) crowded with picnicking folks not anticipating flying objects whipping by, Cape May local Jay Eppenbach, a Cape May Elementary School teacher who used to play the game on a semi-professional level, is looking to have a new court built on the old Fort Apache Campground site in Rio Grande. He and fellow frisbee golf advocates are planning their fundraising efforts and waiting on approval from Middle Township, which will happen — if all goes well —at the end of next month.
We called Jay, who told us this is the fastest-growing sport in the world (it’s played in 40 different countries and on 3,300 courses in the US). “But Cape May County doesn’t know a lot about it,” he said. “It would be an opportunity to provide alternative recreation here.”
Jay explained that the course would be especially exciting for kids. “We offer all the standards like baseball and basketball,” he said, “but not every child wants to play those. This is inexpensive and easy to learn.”
Not to mention, it’s a great sport for the enviornment. “It leaves a very small footprint,” he said. “It doesn’t take away from the natural scenery, and it allows us to maintain open space.”
We asked Jay to keep us posted, so watch this space.
WE’RE delighted to see that our History Editor Ben Miller is making great progress in his bid to lose 230lbs (which is very close to the weight of an entire Exit Zero publisher). Ben has already shed 30lbs in three weeks, which is a remarkable start. He signed up with DDP Yoga, after being inspired by the amazing story of a fellow veteran. His regimen is a combination of tough exercise and strict dieting. “The workouts are crazy, but they’re good,” says Ben. We will keep you updated with Ben’s progress.