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Missed Chances

In stead of falling asleep watching the Golden Globes, I binge-watched The Killing with my folks. I wake up to find the usual Trump-bashing by Jimmy Fallon and others, especially Merryl Streep, who again called out Trump for "mocking" Serge Kovalski, a Washington Time reporter with a disability that prevents him to move his hands easily. In a September speech Trump made reference to an unflattering article Kovalski wrote about him and waved his hand in a spastic motions, to many who didn't want to see Donald Trump be president, this was yet another heavy club to beat Trump over the head. There was just on small problem, Donald Trump never meant to mocked anyone\. He made the hand gestures no t even knowing the reporter had a disability. There's video of Hillary Clinton doing the same thing, but it has been since buried. There's also video of President Obama saying his poor bowling skills made him eligible for the Special Olympics. To be fair Obama did rightfully catch a bit of heat for the comment, only AFTER some athletes in the Special Olympics spoke out , but nothing nearing the constant barrage of negative press Donald Trump saw for "mocking a reporter with a disability". Like I always do I'm not defending Trump's actions, then or now. I once .again am pointing out the "Hollywood Hypocrisy".

What Donald trump did bothered me, but I don't need any Hollywood flake to tell me how I feel. That's why people get annoyed when people like Streep get up on their high horses. It isn't that we don't feel they shouldn't use their celebrity for good causes, the y have and should continue. However what bothers just about everyone is we're constantly beaten over our heads with their opinions.n Some might say writing about this only reinforces what Streep said. On the other hand she doesn't have a disability I highly doubt she interacts with people who HAVE disabilities on a regular basis, so how come she feels the urge to use us to attack Trump? trump has made plenty of enemies, many of them he deserves, but on the other hand he has also been unfairly treated in ways nobody has ever imagined! People with disabilities spoke out against Trump, we don't need celebrities doing it for us. The problem wasn't Merryl Streeps message, it was she didn't change any one's mind. Those who agree with her, cheered her for her "bravery" (did she save a baby on her to the stage to receive her award?), she called out Donald Trump, big deal I'm not impressed!!

In the past movies depict people with disabilities in a negative light, but the tide is changing with shows like Speechless and others. There have been more depicting people with disabilities, there need to be more people with actually disabilities playing roles, both in front of and behind the camera. While most people would agree the best way to take on hate is head-on, there are also subtle actions that need to be investigated as well. My hope is for one day a statement is carried of an award stage and onto the silver screen. Not with a big splash, but just like we have gay, black, women or any other minority portrayed on screen. There's a way for inclusion without the "in-your-face" mentality. My hope is Hollywood finds a way to balance the message of inclusion while not overplaying their hand as they have done previously. Part of being "in the norm" is making it part OF the norm! Congrats to all the winners last night


Going back

Justin Mattes surprised my "niece" Georgia!! He has been visiting at Fusco's Market today!! We miss you!!
File this under a "Feel Good Post", where I'm not going to write aan opinion on current events nor insight some wisdom to the public.  Even t hough I LOVE Cape May with 90% of my heart, there's still 10% left in Woodcliff Lake, sorry living in a town for 38+ years can do that to anyone. Of course every  time we go up there it drops my "Cape May Cred" back a few points I hear my friends at the VFW jokingly say "Yeah, move back North ya Yankee". Truthfully parents still have doctors located in Northern NJ and so we need to go up there a few times a year for their check ups, especially my mom.  So we need to make the 168 mile trip up the Garden State Parkway! We did it once this summer when my  Uncle and Aunt visited from Texas! Then we did another trip up in late October for my license plate meet in Elmwood Park, I used  up a lot of brownie points for that one, but it was worth it to see my friends, since they won't come to Cape May (hint,hint).
So each of these treks north requires two mandatory stops, Golden Dynasty  in Franklin Lakes and FUSCO'S Market. I actually DIDN'T stop at Fusco's Market once and I think the family took it as an personal insult.  It's usually for my traditional "root beer and sour cream chips" which is affectionately labelled "The Justin Mattes   special" because I seldom get anything else, beside the occasional  hero!!  Also the last time I was up there I timed it so I had lunch there and got to chat with George. I had what I felt was "upgraded status" which meant I went behind the counter to sit down awhile!
The last couple of times I announced to the world i was going north, it was all over Facebook. This time it was a "stealth mission". Dad had doctor's appointments in Spring Valley, NY so I convinced him to drop me off at Fusco's on his way. Of course I had to convince him George would be there so it wasn't a total surprise!! However George was happy to see me even if he knew about it ahead of time. I walked in as if I never left Woodcliff Lake. All George could do was smile, we immediately got into a conversation! He *would never admit it but h e missed me like I missed him! His two older girls soon go off the bus from high school and went and got the youngest daughter. who's  in kindergarten, and came over. I've seen them all grow up but I remember when the youngest was born, I even wrote a poem for her. She was shy around me but her sisters always encouraged her to "give Justin a hug"/ When we met this time sh e didn't need any  coaching, as soon as she saw me she ran into my arms. George snapped the picture above and immediately posted it on Facebook~! Oh I just melted. I love all three of them as if they were my nieces.
I say this all the time I love Cape May with all my heart, but I go back to Woodcliff Lake any chance I get. I go back because of family and people like the Fuscos who always welcome me home no matter how far I have travelled


In hot water

You would think Cape May moving to Cape May would open  up; plenty of blog entries for me, it hasn't been that easy. Mostly because so much has happened since the end of June, from 4th of July fireworks to celebrate Congress Hall's 200 Th Anniversary, so many chances I have missed just to come on here to vent. It hasn't been that easy\ because I haven't set aside enough time to write, usually I'm wasting time on Facebook which leads to trouble. Especially now that the weather is getting colder so I  won't be able to go outside aS MUCH

The latest was a double whammy. Out of all the political posts I have made, and even lost a few friends over I knew deep down something I would do would really get me into hot water. I commented about the riots and while I didn't use any foul language , I portrayed a whole group of people in a very negative light, or that's how it sounded.   Now I have a guy who I utterly respect trying to smooth things over. This is not the first time my comments caused a stir but this was the first time someone actually whacked me offline.. I would go into details but I decided it is best to put it behind me. All I will say is unlike other incidents, this one was a real wake up call. I forget some times there are people who truly can't leave things on the Internet, they have to take it offline. I need to rethink my online presence

Secondly a close friend has just lost his father and I just made him feel worse. I know he's depressed and he's been going through a lot. He mentioned he was going to take his life, he's done this before and I thought the way to snap him out of it was to  inform him I so worried for his safety I called the police. He was furious and offended when I told him I was bluffing . He said he was just blowing off steam. Normally when I piss him off he just unfriends me and after a few days I go crawling back and eventually he accepts my apology. That's after multiple attempts. This time I wanted to be in control so I suspended my account, I disappeared!

So I decided both incidents was a sign that I needed to go into hiding. Facebook has this cool feature to "suspended" your account where you go invisible to the world without deleting your account. I knew a few people who have done this in the past and suddenly pop back up after weeks, even months without notice.

 The problem is I tried just not going on Facebook for a few days, but then I found I had dozens of notifications waiting for me in various groups and tags. I also know people have deleted their accounts, but there have been multiple warnings of spammers hijacking names! So here I am suspending my activities on the popular social network. I actually find it kind of refreshing, but truthfully I'm goin


Dave Kuehn- an ALPCA Original

Nothing is more upsetting than to come on this blog to try to comprehend another death of a friend. Dave Kuehn was one of the first members of ALPCA I actually met in person. when I first joined back in 1994 my first meet was in New York City the Sunday before Thanksgiving. Some how I got my dad to drive me into Manhattan to a community center in the middle of the city. We arrived to ind a group of collectors from the area and surrounding states and sign on sheet. I vaguely remember actually meeting Dave but I remember him showing off rare and valuable Connecticut plates for sale. When someone inspected them Dave gave a brief history lesson on the plate, where it came from and if it was for sale. Usually he notice the young collectors at the shows and give them a few pointers on how to build  up their collections. Dave knew where we were coming from because he started collecting as a teenager himself. Dave joined ALPCA when the club still held their yearly conventions in school gymnasiums, I have heard stories of older collectors giving Dave rides before he had a drivers license. He even rode his bicycle to some meets, it was real dedication rarely found at such a young age. There have been members as young as three years old join the group, but usually the kid's father signs the kid up and pays for his dues. Dave was the older members "nephew/stepson/grandson" and they loved him, everybody loved him. They were there when he he got his license, graduated from high school, took over his father's printing business.
Dave was the start of the third generation of collectors and one of the last t o build a state collection literally one plate at a time. In today's world of eBay and e-mail groups, Dave remained "old school". He once chased a single plate for years, waiting for the owner to sell. Dave NEVER pressured anybody and appreciated the art of the deal as much as the plate itself. As Dave mentors in the club started aging, he took on more of an active role, helping run meets, taking over some, then becoming the Colonial Region's Treasurer. Dave was always good with numbers, h e helped his family printing business at a young age. Dave even printed the ALPCA Newsletter at an enormous discount, just because he want to give back to the club so much. He grew the Colonial Region to the point where the meets attracted members from across the country and around the world. I remember the first time I got to attend the Yorktown Heights meet, Dave knew how hard it was for me to attend those meets and smiled when I walked up to the registration desk. While the other members signed themselves in when it was time for me to attempt to write my name,I embarrassingly asked him for assistance. Without any fuss Dave slowly turned the book around and wrote my name. He started to write my last name and I could tell he would get stuck, everybody misspells my last name, I said "M-A-T-T-E-S" as clearly as possible. Dave smiled kind of an unspoken "Thank you". I struggled to get the bills out to pay for my admission, Dave just said what I heard millions of times before, "Take your time". Ever since that day h e has always remained my mentors.

My adventures at the 2010 ALPCA Convention were just horrible, my flight down was delayed, arrangements I thought were made fell through. When I requested a roommate, only two people responded. In dealing with the other member, he and I got our lines crossed and he wound up making other arrangements, I was left with a hefty hotel bill on my personal debit card, and no roommate. My mother back in New Jersey was horrified, I had to spend my entire bank account savings on a room. Without getting into details Dave heard of my problems and offered to split his room with me so I had money for the convention. When I assured him I would pay him back every cent, he told me he trusted me. He also reminded me he had met my folks many times an d had no problem calling them if I "got out of line". We both knew he was half joking and half dead serious. Dave always felt the need to give back, even though he gave back to ALPCA ten times over. That was who Dave Kuehn was, always giving a helping hand to people who needed it. He didn't do it for recognition, he did it because it was the right thing to do!!

Dave's sudden passing has stirred up all kinds of emotions throughout ALPCA. He remains a force within the club, not because he was an outspoken member, because of the way he treated fellow ALPCAns. Dave Kuehn LOVED ALPCA, you don't need me to write anything more. He loved the members like his own family. His knowledge of Connecticut license plate history is unmatched!Dave grew with the club, becoming one of its most caring members. Anyone that knew him, respected him, a quality few men can claim. I will miss you Dave, the talks we had, the wisdom you bestowed and the honor of being called your friend. God speed my friend!

Side note: Upon hearing about Dave's death there were immediate calls for his induction into the ALPCA Hall of Fame. In order to be inducted an ALPCA member must first be nominated and then voted on by the former ALPCA Presidents. If that happened, Dave would be the first member inducted so soon after his death. I objected not because I felt Dave isn't worthy of the honor, but the 2017 ALPCA Hall of Fame induction ceremony happens at the convention, in 2017 the convention is in Ontario California, 3,000 plus miles from Milford Connecticut, where Dave called home. The majority of Dave's ALPCA friends live on the eastern seaboard, it just wouldn't feel right. However the 2018 convention is in Valley Forge, PA. I wrote the following reply the best I could under the got overwhelming support

I wrote this in response to people's calls to induct Dave in the ALPCA Hall of Fame in 2017 at the convention in  Ontario California. I suggested we wait until 2018 at  the Valley Forge Convention!! 
I AGREE however talking it over with another member who was close to Dave , I think it would be best to wait until Valley Forge, PA in 2018 BECAUSE not a lot of Dave's friends can attend California. I KNOW folks might not agree, but we want to do this right. It's not a matter of IF, it's a matter of when. This is not like me but I'm not going to debate this to death. I gave my opinion, I'm basing on knowing Dave for 20+ years and I'll go along with whatever people decide.

Part of this tribute was published in the December 2016 PLATES Magazine. 


8th Garden State Meet

Hosts Ed Bulter ALPCA# 6661and Justin Mattes ALPCA#6748

For the third  year in a row the American Legion Post 157 in Elmwood Park NJ played host to 62 ALPCAns and visitors. Collectors joined us  from as far away as Utah and South Carolina which made the meet all that more successful!!  Tables filled with plates made for quite of selection to buy and sell. Brothers Jon and Phil Leib once again brought an impressive collection of rare and odd New Jersey plates.  My hats off to my cohost Ed Butler who  manned the registration desk and kept the entire show running smoothly!!  Adam Garstka did another wonderful job as the official photographer for the meet . We have a great group of volunteers to keep these meets running smoothly!!   The party continued when we went over to Charlie Bloods for a late lunch and lively discussion. I again want to thank everyone who came ou t and am looking forward to doing it all again in 2017!!

Submitted by Justin Mattes, ALPCA 6748