BY STEVE ADUBATO only in new jersey
STEVE ADUBATO, PHD. is an Emmy Award-winning anchor for Thirteen/ WNET (PBS) and NJTV (PBS) who regularly appears on the Today Show,
CNN, FOX News and on many New York-based radio stations. His new book, Lessons in Leadership, o;ers lasting leadership strategies that all leaders can implement. For more information, log on to stand-deliver.com. Find Steve on Facebook @steveadubatophd and Twitter @SteveAdubato.
Thanks for the Memories
Plenty of unforgettable “bests” and a few lamentable
“worsts” over 13 years of monthly columns.
;;;; ;;; ;;;;;; ;;;;;;; celebrating
its ;;th anniversary, I’ve been thinking
back on the fascinating people, places
and topics I have had the privilege of
writing about in this treasured space.
Let me share some memorable anecdotes and excerpts.
For my first column in September
;;;;, I interviewed Goodfellas star Joe
Pesci. We share Newark roots, so it was
no surprise that we hit it o;. Still, there
were times I couldn’t tell if he was be-
ing himself or playing a character. Like
when I asked him, “Joe, you’ve played
so many mobsters and tough guys, and
you also grew up in a neighborhood
with a lot of guys like that. How much
did that a;ect your performances as
an actor?” Pesci looked at me, took a
pu; on his cigar, sipped his Scotch, and
replied, poker-faced, “What does grow-
ing up have to do with how you act in a
movie?” It was straight out of Goodfel-
las—the scene where he says to
the Ray Liotta character, “Funny how?
Like I’m a clown, I amuse you?”
Pesci warmed up later, but I was
never sure whether we were bonding as
two Italian-Americans or he was genu-
inely pissed. When we ran into each
other years later, he kissed me on both
cheeks like we were best friends. I didn’t
ask anything other than, “How you do-
ing?” I thought that was pretty safe.
I got tremendous reader reaction from
a February ;;;; column—headlined
“Growing Up Italian”—about coming of
age in Newark’s North Ward in a volatile,
loving and sometimes dysfunctional family that was solidly grounded in an ethnic
neighborhood where loyalty and tradition ruled. Hundreds of readers wrote
and e-mailed about their experiences in
similar ethnic enclaves. It struck me as
representative of what New Jersey really
is: neighborhoods, people from all over,
immigrant parents and grandparents
who came to America for a better life.
In February ;;;;, I declared New Jersey should increase the gas tax by ; cents
a year over a five-year period to keep our
roads and bridges safe. I wrote: “Every
governor from Whitman to McGreevey
to Corzine has been reluctant to ask for
a gas-tax increase. But that’s the wrong
question to ask. The more important
question is whether voters are willing to
pay a few more pennies at the pump to fix
decrepit roads and crumbling bridges.”
Well, now it’s seven years later with a
newly enacted ;;-cents-per-gallon tax
hike, and Jersey motorists are peeved.
A phased-in tax would have caused less
sticker shock—don’t you agree?
In March ;;;;, I handed out best
and worst awards; the one for Xanadu
is worth revisiting. “What a mess,” I
wrote. “The place looks like candy-colored crap as you drive by on Route ;,
and its business model is even uglier. I
understand that Bergen County politicians don’t want to let it die, but this
thing is never going to happen. The
timing is o;, the plan is o;—even the
name Xanadu is o;.” It’s six years later,
this debacle is now called the American
Dream Meadowlands, and it still hasn’t
opened. You know what they say about
putting lipstick on a pig? Man, that is
one expensive and ugly pig.
By far, the most memorable personality I have featured is Eric LeGrand, the
former Rutgers football standout whose
life was changed on October ;;, ;;;;,
when he su;ered a severe spinal injury
in a football game. He remains paralyzed
from the neck down, but his attitude is
amazing and inspirational. What I said
in that June ;;;; column is just as true
now: “We need to celebrate the Eric LeGrands of this world for many reasons.
One of them is that people like LeGrand
are the heart and soul of New Jersey.
He’s the best we have to o;er. Every once
in a while, we have to remind ourselves
and the rest of the world of that.”
Most importantly, congratulations to
a great magazine on ;; years—and thank
you to all of our readers for your loyalty
and for always letting us know what you
think. Because that’s New Jersey.