ASBURY PARK - Springsteen purists are likely aghast that our state's official hero was selling Jeeps last night during the Super Bowl - his first commercial ever. Sure it was a great, two-minute ad and it focused on unity and patriotic heart strings, as Springsteen travelled on snow-lined streets to talk about reunifying America. But why oh why choose to put our hardened legend in Daisy's white 1980 Jeep?

WASHINGTON – What a difference an election makes. Suddenly, the New Jersey congressional delegation has muscle, after years of being told to sit down and shut up. NJ.com reports that it’s a great time to be a Blue State, controlling both houses of Congress and the White House. What does it mean? New Jersey congress members are running key committees to finally build this Gateway Tunnel, to ban oceanfront drilling, to end the federal cap on tax deductions for property taxes and revise tax laws so that New Jersey no longer gives Washington $10 billion more than we get back in services. No matter your stance on politics, you can’t ignore that it’s good to have Jersey guys having a real say in Congress – the first time since the 1980s.

STATEWIDE – You landed a COVID vaccination shot? Congrats for winning that sweepstakes. But the clock is now ticking; you need to get that second shot within 28 days. This mandate is a logistical nightmare for state officials who high-fived that they got you inoculated once, but need to find you and make sure you go back again. The challenge is a two-way street, with many people trying to land that second appointment through the state’s complicated scheduling system via the online portal, the phone center or email. State officials say appointment emails are sent on a rolling basis, and people should “expect them in a timely manner.” Meanwhile, “continued patience” is sought.

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BRIEFING BREATHER

A man named Charles Osborne had the hiccups for 68 years, from 1922-1990.

LBI – More people are hunkering down at their shore homes as this infernal pandemic drags on and on. It’s become especially noticeable in seven towns on Long Beach Island, where more families are spending the winter to avoid COVID-19 hotspots elsewhere. There’s no headcount, but The Sandpaper found plenty of indicators: Spikes in utility service, in garbage piles, in recycling and water use. Ocean County Clerk Scott Colabella says the volume of real estate transactions, especially in shore towns, has “skyrocketed … it could be a flight from the (cities).” A long-time LBI property manager also says he notices “a lot of homes lit up at night,” noting that remote learning and working online is making it easier for families to ride out the pandemic in the frigid shore winds. Added plus: No beach badge required.

EDISON – The mayor here believes in giving second chances. So, Mayor Tom Lankey gave Town Hall jobs to critics and now a convicted felon. Lankey tells the Home News-Tribune that he prefers “listening to everybody” including people “not necessarily on the same page, to debate with me.” Lankey just gave a $12,000 “special assistant” job to a gadfly who helped sink his $850 million privatization deal for Edison’s water system. Another “special assistant” job went to a guy the feds jailed for bilking immigrants out of big bucks for bogus visas. Lankey also appointed his 2017 GOP opponent to the planning board and his previous “special assistant” is now the local Democratic chair. Both happen to be running to unseat the mayor this year. 

IN OTHER IMPORTANT NEWS

NAPLES, Italy – Wailing ambulance sirens are bad for Mafia business. Why? Because they sound too much like police sirens. So, La Cosa Nostra is threatening ambulance crews, demanding they stop using them. The Times of London says speeding ambulances with lights flashing and sirens blaring, have forced the drug dealers to run for cover and, at least once, interrupted thugs giving a beat-down to a hapless guy who couldn’t repay his loan shark. Mafioso threats worsened as first-responders got busier responding to coronavirus emergencies. How bad has the intimidation gotten? Traumatized first-aiders and hospital EMTs are now insisting on police escorts.

BOSTON – Consider it a case of very aggressive sleeping. A Worcester man has some friendly advice: don’t fall asleep wearing wireless earbuds. He tells his odd tale on Facebook about how he went to bed one night last week listening to music. He then got up the next morning, went outside to shovel some snow and then went to have a well-earned glass of water. But the water wouldn’t go down his throat and he had to lean over so the water could dribble back out of his mouth. The plot thickened when he noticed he could not find one of his ear buds. Hmmm. Where could it possibly be? The man’s son began to connect the glaring dots and suggested that pop go get an X-ray. It didn’t take the medical experts long to find the earbud, lodged deep into his lower esophagus. It was removed with little fanfare. But now the man is on a mission to spread his cautionary tale to others who enjoy tunes as part of a pre-snooze.

BAR GRAMMAR

A verb walks into a bar, sees a beautiful noun, and suggests they conjugate. The noun declines.

THIS DAY IN HISTORY

It was this day in 1994 that Jack Nicholson beats up a car with a golf club.

WORD OF THE DAY

Sere – [SEER] – adjective

Definition: dried out, withered

Example:  My Super Bowl chicken wings were described as eating the sere Mojave desert.

WIT OF THE DAY

“If one morning I walked on top of the water across the Potomac River, the headline that afternoon would read: President Can’t Swim.”

-Lyndon B. Johnson

BIDEN BLURB

“As I pushed through to the podium, I could hear people murmuring under their breath: 'There he is... Goddam Biden... Kill the sonofabitch.' And these were my voters: working-class Democrats.”

-Joe Biden

WEATHER IN A WORD

Sun!