Thursday, January 17, 2008

The Conflict within the Gem

"The true test of the first rate mind is the ability to hold contradictory ideas at the same time." F. Scott Fitzgerald

I love Flemington but I cannot say it was love at first site. Our family landed here in the throes of one of those corporate moves. We had resided in Houston for 10 years during the 1980’s oil boom that had seen Houston transform itself into one of the hottest spots on the US map. My daughters are Texans. But to stay employed we had to uproot and return to NJ, AT&T corporate headquarters. Like most parents we shopped school districts. Through the AT&T office grapevine the corporate brethren had informed us that Flemington had good schools. So we snapped up the only house we could afford in Flemington and settled in on West Road about 20 years ago. Here we faced the adjustment of going from Houston, an exciting new metropolis that took an hour to travel from end to end, to the then one traffic light hamlet of Flemington. For all the glitz and glitter Houston had to offer, you never saw anyone you knew if you went for a walk. Actually, if you went for a walk, you were threatened with heatstroke. True, there was great Texas beef, ---kicking music like Cotton-Eyed Joe, those tall, hunky, bruiser cowboys in their jeans and cowboy boots and hats. There is the incomparable, billowy, blue Texas sky but there are no foliage displays or change of seasons. Houston is hot and hotter. If it snowed a dusting’s worth, Interstate Highway 10 looked more like a demolition derby. So much concrete, hot and steamy after the rains. And those roaches, those Texas roaches! Flemington offered retreat into an intimate community and continuity in the lush green landscape of Hunterdon County, away from the maddening crowd.

On the one hand, Houston was basking in its growth and the opportunity to change into whatever it could, loving every minute of it. It was aglow with anticipation in how it could become more than it ever had been. On the other hand, Flemington, with its several generations of residents, rightly so was basking very much in its past and history, preserving what it loves about itself for the future generations.

I had tasted the excitement that the evolving world offered. Not love at first site, Flemington for me was a bit more of an acquired taste, more a love that grows after taking the time to see its subtleties, the rich texture of life in a community of people who take the time and make the effort to really care about you and about the borough, from its Boro council to its tireless cadre of volunteers like our firemen and Shade Tree Commission. Flemington functions like a brotherhood of sorts, at times fighting and squabbling like a family but still quick to help and assist, neighbor to neighbor and resident to resident, as we again witnessed with the outpouring of assistance after the Hunter Hills fire a few weeks ago. We Flemingtonians are not anonymous. In a myriad of ways so many of us are personally devoted to this little slice of Norman Rockwell Americana that embodies the very necessary humanistic qualities, albeit today often sidelined, that make it a stable community in which to raise a child. Now I too would not rush to change much about Flemington.

Life’s experience tells me that other cities should change to be more Flemington-esque. Other municipalities could benefit by adopting our ways such as the informality and personal touches we have at Boro council meetings, for instance. There everyone can speak and there everyone will be answered by a council member. This is no doubt the dream some Founder dreamed once upon a time.

But we, Flemington residents, are conflicted. We read the newspapers and catch the news. We can see globally how detrimental it is to a culture to rally to the past and not welcome or open our hearts and minds to the future. In the end nature mandates that we grow and adapt or we will surely deteriorate and die off. Flemington needs economic enhancement. In the face of developer’s aspirations for Main Street, we need to review our master plan. Flemington needs to preserve its environment and resources like our water. We cannot leave Flemington bereft of the opportunities that can better and protect the lives of its residents. So the question becomes---How do we the people of Flemington accommodate change while not ruffling the feathers of its beautiful plumage? Or put another way, those who are reluctant to change must be sure they are not crushing the pearls that will secure a continued good future for the residents of Flemington and those who champion and facilitate change must be sure they are not crushing the time-tested pearls of Flemington’s success. Never should we reduce Flemington to the level of a problem that needs to be fixed. It is a gem of a place to live. From time to time ,we just may need to buff it up here and there to shine all the brighter.

Stay tuned.


Betsy said...

Dear Joan,

What is your point? What are you trying to say?


Betsy said...

You write: But we, Flemington residents, are conflicted.

We are?

Courier News Flemington blog said...


You are too cute...

Well, the point is...we will be making changes perhaps. Flemington Cut Glass is a case in point...When we change we want to be careful not to take from Flemington the things we like the best. This is pretty much in the last paragraph.

I believe some of us are conflicted. We like what we see and we see that we need or want to make changes...How do we accommodate inevitable change while preserving what we love best...

That is my take on this...

What is your take on this?

MediumPetey said...


I am taking leave in writing for a while in your blog. The point that did you in for me was the line a blog or two ago about how if you write about Borough Council, you get your head handed to you. I have to say there is not much I agree with that you write, but I never took you to be one who claims that you are 'victimized'. I took you for stronger than that. Maybe I was wrong.

Mostly I have been taken by your seemingly contradictory libertarian views---sometimes you are, sometimes not.

Last point: The administration of the death penalty needs to pass the cruel and unusual punishment test. The pain and suffering that someone to whom this is being administered needs to be regarded when determining the cruel and unusual punishment prong of the analysis.

The issue is not whether or not the general population is entitled to a pain free death. The issue is whether or not the government, as the entity administering the death penalty has the right to administer one that causes pain and suffering. For example, the government may not behead someone. Or starve them to death. That would be a violation of their constitutional rights. The SC will determine whether lethal injections violates that, too.

Bye. It's been fun. But this has become less challenging. I know where you stand, and it's just too predictable.


Betsy said...

So it took you 858 words to say that change in Flemington must be considered carefully?

You lost me somewhere around word 698 or so.

Of course change will happen. It does - no getting around it. Sadly, most change is happening outside our borders such as at the old fairgrounds. That behemoth will impact our community more than any small development along Main St which may come about. While I would prefer to see the Cut Glass factory become greenspace or a transit center, I also recognize that something must be done with it as it is an eyesore.


You are too cute...

My beautiful wife says the same thing.

My issue with you writing things like, "We here in Flemington..." is that you are assuming that we all think alike here in town. We don't and I'm sure I am not alone in wishing you wouldn't portend to think for everyone here.

Some may feel as you do, but some is not all. Unless you can cite those some, it's probably better to cite your opinion as your own and not in the collective.

Courier News Flemington blog said...


Regarding my comments about getting my head handed to me by some Flemington residents if I discuss Boro Council issues, this is the state of affairs. I am addressing a concern I have regarding this blog site. Commenting on elected officials and governing bodies is nothing new. It happens in letters to the editor, at public meetings and now on blogsites. If I go to more nationwide topics, I am criticized for not talking about Flemington. Flemington is not a major city. To blog for several days a week, which is what I am supposed to do, means I will have to appeal to a variety of subjects. In my estimation something else is going on here.

The basic business of my profession is differing viewpoints. We restricted ourselves to talking the topic, just the topic. The game begins with comprehending the other person’s point of view on a given topic then arguing the counterpoint, if so inclined.

I have blogged on some heavy- duty sites and I have learned a lot about certain subjects. This is why I provide URLs as references. So people can do more research if they want to. I am not out to win but will argue vigorously. People are petty much invested in their own viewpoints and do not often change their minds. This is to be expected. I know people will always disagree with me and you probably know people will always disagree with you.

Regarding libertarianism: This is a label you pin on me and have some expectation of how I am supposed to think but I do not see myself encompassed by such labels. I see an issue and I analyze it. That’s all.

Regarding the lethal injection issue: I see your point about making sure we are not executing prisoners in a capriciously cruel way. And that is why the case was heard, I presume. But court rulings have a funny way of opening doors to other issues and implications. And that is one of my points. I certainly do not support being cruel but realisitcally death is not pretty for many people. How far do we go here for prisoners when the general population itself suffers? when pain patients cannot even get enough pain medication to rid them of their suffering because of any overly zealous DEA? Just what does the Constitution require? This is the point alluded to by Justice Scalia in one article I offered for reference. Does the Constitution owe prisoners or anyone a pain free death? Pain and suffering are not tantamount to cruel and unusual punishment. These are just points to debate and jog our thoughts. I am not undertaking any campaigns regarding lethal injections here.

It is differing ideas that make for a discussion.

Courier News Flemington blog said...


I think it is understood that I am writing my own opinions and observations here.

I agree that what is happening at the old fairgrounds is going to impact us here. Some residents have expressed the view that they want the Flemington Cut Glass to remain zoned commercial. Maybe going green is a possibility. I wonder what the merchants think would bolster up business on Main Street.

I get concerned about talk of upscale apartments in general etc. I hope Flemington stays affordable for young couples and new families too.

MediumPetey said...

“I see an issue and I analyze it. That’s all.”

No, that is not just all. You [or anyone else] analyzes issues along a set of values and view points. Your values and viewpoints seem to scream ‘libertarian’ all the time. Sometimes absolutest libertarianism, too. So, don’t hide behind an “aww shucks- I’se just givin’ my opinion” junk. Your analysis is predictable, and does not waiver much from being a libertarian.

“How far do we go here for prisoners when the general population itself suffers? when pain patients cannot even get enough pain medication to rid them of their suffering because of any overly zealous DEA?”

Huh? Huh, again? Once again, the criteria for judging whether or not lethal injection constitutes cruel and unusual punishment is that which is set by a strict interpretation of the Constitution----not whether or not the general population suffers pain when they die or whether or the DEA [I think you mean the FDA] is overzealous.

“Pain and suffering are not tantamount to cruel and unusual punishment.”

Well, actually they are. That is why we cannot hang people. Or behead them. Or draw and quarter them. Or starve them to death when administering the death penalty ----because the SC has determined that pain and suffering are tantamount to cruel and unusual punishment. In spite of what your libertarian viewpoint and values may compel you to think.